U-S-A! A-D-S! The selling of the 2014 Winter Olympics

Diana Vishneva's variation on a Swan Lake theme

Swan Lake Sochi-style

The hills are alive with the sounds of Sochi. Yes, at long last, the 2014 Winter Olympics have arrived, with all their pageantry (shades of Balanchine’s La Sonnambula and Nutcracker), politics and inhumanity to dogs.

Let’s overlook for a moment NBC’s pompous (and patronizing) pre-opening show, the snarky comments about the accommodations and the kitschy but American-made wardrobe for the US athletes (Ralph Lauren, what were you thinking?)  and concentrate on what really matters here: commerce. That is, the ads—in all their patriotic and aspirational glory.

My medalists for opening night creativity:

– BMW (Hello Future) Arthur Clarke sees the future and it is BMW. Another in a series of what’s becoming an unwinning trend (from Apple to Levi’s) that features portentously delivered commentary or voices from the past serving as voice-overs for today’s must-have brands. Still, beautiful production values.

Cadillac ELR  My favorite of the night, if only for that fabulous mid-century house. A tongue-in-cheek plug for “American exceptionalism” and everything that goes with it:  “Look, it’s pretty simple. You work hard, you create your own luck and just gotta believe, that ANYTHING is possible,” says the elitist driver, perfectly played by Neal McDonough.  “N’est-ce pas?” Oui, bien sûr.

Chevy Traverse (For whatever shape your family takes.) A beautiful declaration of what should be American–and global–human values.

Folgers (Olympic Shine). What it takes to start the day off right–whatever you do for a living.

Kelloggs (From great starts come great things) Listen to your mom, eat your breakfast and you, too, can grow up to be an Olympian.

Liberty Mutual (With every setback, there’s a chance to come back..and rise.) It’s not the fall, it’s the recovery. A believable message from the insurance company that claims “responsibility is our policy.”

United (Team USA…Friendly.) Great pool-out of a long-running campaign.

Hokey, exhilarating, breathtaking, extravagant. Let the games begin.





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