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Gary Hall Jr.: The best Olympics commercials

February 22, 2010 | 12:56 pm



Commercials are meant to evoke emotions and, if they're good, feelings of assimilation, creating a connection between company and consumer. Here are my evocations. Are Super Bowl commercials the best?

Visa Commercials:

The Visa commercials are awesome (you can watch one above). How can you mess up the incredible stories we remember so well of Olympic history? It would be difficult to, but the Visa media department put together a winning series of commercials that raises the bar for all Olympic sponsors to follow. The Visa commercials are poetically written tributes, done well. Go World. Go Visa.

 Everybody talks about the commercials of the Super Bowl. These commercials I've seen for the Olympics outperform what I saw for the Super Bowl.  Granted the best Super Bowl commercials are irreverent and funny. It's difficult to be irreverent and funny when the subject matter of the esteemed Olympic movement is so often sincerely inspirational. Of all people, I know this.

 Honorable mentions go out to the AT&T commercial with the female snowboarder in the half pipe launching to the stratosphere with Lou Reed's song "Perfect Day" playing (sellout!), so much better than the Verizon commercials. The P&G Mom commercials, in which the little kids (the vision of mothers) walk out to perform the Olympic events, is also very good. There should be a disclaimer at the end that reads: No 8-year-olds were harmed while being launched off the ski jump in this commercial.

 McDonald's commercials:

 The most awful commercial in my opinion is the McDonald's spot in which two parents buy a Happy Meal, then proceed to rip it from each other's hands in a mad dash back to their apartment where a wide-eyed  homely boy accepts a somehow perfectly un-creased, ungreased Happy Meal box from a chest-swelling father. The cutesy kid squeaks, "Thanks mom!"

My first reaction was, "Who are these lunatics? Who would do that?!" These reflections that I'm sharing with you, they're not of the characters in the commercial. They're of the people who made and paid for this commercial. Is it supposed to be funny? Or cute? Or inspiring? Or comically irreverent? I find it to be none of these, only curiously annoying.

-- Gary Hall Jr.

The Times is pleased to have Gary Hall Jr. blogging for us during the Olympics. Hall has represented the United States in international swimming competition for 16 years, racing in three Olympics and earning 10 medals. This experience built a global network of media, corporate and political contacts that came to his support when he was diagnosed with Type 1, or insulin-dependent, diabetes. Gary has served as a diabetes advocate and consultant to some of the largest companies in the diabetes industry, including Johnson & Johnson's LifeScan division, Novo Nordisk, BD Medical and Eli Lilly & Co. He has testified before Congress on healthcare issues, campaigned for diabetes awareness and headed patient outreach programming, education initiatives and fundraising efforts for important diabetes research. Hall serves as the director of  business development for B2d Marketing, a leader in business-to-doctor marketing and business development.