Olympics vs. Superbowl Ad Snub?

Saturday, July 28, 2012 by Kevin W. Reszel

Let me start by saying that I've worked in the ad biz for 28+ years. Over the years, I've watched the Superbowl and the Olympics (both Summer and Winter) without fail. Like many, I Tivoed (is that a verb?) the Superbowl game so that I could watch the ads time and time again.  Like many, I often find more enjoyment from the commercials than the game itself. Last night, again like many, I fired up the DirecTV DVR and watched the taped delayed (thanks to the greed of NBC) 2012 Olympic Summer Games Opening Ceremonies.  

For the most part, I thought the Ceremonies were okay but a formal review of the London Ceremonies is for another blog.  What I want to touch on here is a thought that occurred to me for the first time in my 49 years.  As NBC took the first of many breaks during the Ceremonies, I was struck by a lightning bolt ... why is there NO Olympic commercials hype? After being thoroughly embarrassed that it took my 28+ years in the biz to even ponder this notion, I began to look at the possible reasons.

My first thought was, it can't be for a lack of eyeballs. In 2011, Huffington Post reported that 111 million people "watched the Green Bay Packers outlast the Pittsburgh Steelers" in Superbowl XLV. In 2012, International Business Times reported that "111.3 million people tuned in to see the Giants beat the Patriots 21 to 17" in Superbowl XLVI.  The day after the 2012 Opening Ceremonies, BBC News reported "The London 2012 Olympic Games began last night with an opening ceremony watched by 62,000 people in the stadium and an estimated global television audience of one billion."  So ... the Olympics delivered approximately 889 MILLION MORE VIEWERS and yet, here we are today talking about; whether that truly was the Queen jumping out of the helicopter with 007 or, how much did Sir Kenneth Branagh get paid for reading a 20 second excerpt from "The Tempest" and then simply standing around, teeth clenching an unlit stogie (very politically correct), sporting a costume befitting audacious industrial engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel or Sir Topham Hatt from Thomas the Tank Engine.

Either way, what we didn't do the day after the London 2012 Opening Ceremonies was discuss how funny and/or entertaining the new FedExBudweiser or Miller commercials were or how Go Daddy continues to push the envelope when it comes to the age old question ... does sex sell domain names?  Sure a few companies crafted commercials with an Olympic theme, but the sizzle and the significance of Superbowl-esk commercials continues to be obviously absent.  Again I ask why?  Just prior to the start of the Olympic broadcast, I sat in my La-Z-Boy, adult beverage in-hand, primed and ready for a little Dos Equis :30 second spot featuring The Most Interesting Man In The World with a brilliant Olympic twist.  Something like ... At the 1896 Athens Olympics, he fashioned Gold Medals out of twigs, yellow colored flowers and funnel cake.  I mean seriously, what's a summertime festival without funnel cakes?  But no, my hopes and dreams of a Summer Olympics with commercials and brands battling it out, going head-to-head with the annual February advertising juggernaut ... all dashed. 

Anyone following me on this?  How are the Olympics, more specifically, the Olympic Opening Ceremonies, NOT the ultimate 'Superbowl' of brand awareness?