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My Top Winter Olympics Commercials of 2022

I love, love, love watching the Olympic games. Not only for the curling (yes, I used to be a curler), but for the TV commercials. Watching these ads feels like the Super Bowl for two weeks straight.

I’ll stay up waaaay too late to watch. The other night I noticed how instantaneously the judges revealed their scores for figure skating and freestyle skiing. It made me wish I could be an advertising award show judge, so I could hand out a few well-deserved medals to these companies and ad agencies for their commercials.  So, let’s pretend I am.

The Winning Commercials:

2022 Chevy Silverado – Walter in Winter

 

 

Chevy Silverado was my favorite commercial for the Summer Olympics and I’m thrilled its agency did another version for the Winter Olympics. Who can get enough of Walter, the cat, in the Chevy Silverado commercials?

Such a creative twist on all those commercials that show tough guys with their dogs tagging along in trucks.

No one expects to see a cat riding along. In fact, the Wall Street Journal just published a fabulous piece about why it can be so challenging to take cats on road trips.

But this just adds to Walter’s almost mythical appeal as we’re entertained by his sheer bravado, while his owner acts playfully nonchalant about his feline companion as he boasts about the Chevy Silverado’s features and benefits.

Artistic merit: 10/10

Technical merit: 10/10

 

Jurassic World Dominion ­– NBC Sports

 

 

What better way to introduce Jurassic World Dominion than to show its larger-than-life dinosaurs with the U.S. Olympic athletes expected to dominate the world? It’s a spot that’s so engaging, I didn’t even notice it was two-minutes long until I looked it up on YouTube.

Each vignette shows these athletes alone in their element, training for the games when these ginormous dinosaurs show up. Shaun White, a three-time gold medalist, Mikaela Shiffrin, a three-time medalist, and Nathan Chen, a three-time world champion, never spoke a word in this spot.

The commercial opens with them demonstrating their incredible athleticism, training alone. Then it cuts to their faces, showing fear and genuine awe, as their training was rudely interrupted by the unexpected – a pack of dinosaurs.

The sound effects of the skates, board, and skis carving through the snow and ice and those beasts tromping through the snow accompanied by cinematic music carried the spot. I also enjoyed hearing the dinosaurs growling and trying to connect with the athletes.

Shaun White can jump high, but not as high as a Brachiosaurus. A point emphasized by him blowing on Shaun’s goggles. Mikaela Shiffrin is one of the fastest skiers on earth, but she can still get passed by Scorpios Rex and threatened by its protective momma. It seemed apropos for Nathan Chen was encircled by a squad of Cretaceous Raptors while he spun in circles.

The visual effects of the panoramic scenery, dinosaurs’ animations, and shadows cast over the athletes certainly gives us a taste what of what this future blockbuster film will offer this summer.

Artistic merit: 10/10

Technical merit: 10/10

 

Applebee’s – Here’s to the Regulars

 

It opens with the music to “Cheers” playing through the spot and the line “Every place depends on its Regulars. Meet some of ours.” What unfolds is Main Street, U.S.A. This commercial shows the goodness of people in such a beautiful and relatable way.

A man driving home from work, firefighters returning from a call, customers at a local hardware store, two women at a hair salon, a father and his two young sons helping an older veteran repair his window siding.

The lyrics to the song are especially poignant “Making your way in the world today takes everything you’ve got.” As it shows day-to-day work ethic of its heroes, the Regulars.

And it segues to how the Regulars celebrate their big and small life events by going out to Applebee’s. After a local girls’ softball game. After the Homecoming queen and king are announced at a football game. After the manufacturing workers walk away from a long shift all smiles as another group heads into their plant.

Later we see them at the Applebee’s bar as well as the older veteran seated at the table with a younger family, the hairstylist and her customer at the bar getting complimented on her hair by another couple.

It signs off with a note of appreciation, “Here’s to the Regulars. We wouldn’t be here without you.” It’s refreshing to see a company lead with a thank-you instead of a sell in such a genuine way.

Artistic merit: 10/10

Technical merit: 10/10

 

Xfinity/Comcast – Bringing Inspiration

This heartwarming Xfinity/Comcast commercial puts sportsmanship on the podium with vignettes of athletes from the Winter games offering kind words and positive gestures before, during, and after competition.

Cue the credits for David Ruffin for that soulful song “Put a Little Love in Your Heart.” It begins right out of the skiers’ starting gate with the lyrics, “Think of your fellow man, lend him a helping hand.”

We’re treated to 55 seconds of fist bumps, high fives, helping hands, and well-wishes paired with families riveted to their TVs witnessing it, and those kids emulating sportsman-like behavior as they compete with other kids in winter sports. Punctuated by the lyrics, “And the world will be a better place. And the world will be a better place for you and me.”

Xfinity/Comcast encourages more viewership by showing the “sportsmanship effect” of watching Olympic athletes.

Artistic merit: 10/10

Technical merit: 10/10

 

Salesforce ­– Because Earth is the New Frontier

 

I’ll be honest, when I first saw this one with Matthew McConaughey strutting his stuff in a space suit, I thought it was a tad pretentious and busy. Every time I watched it though, I noticed different things. There are so many layers and playful jabs to this commercial that, thankfully, I’m more entertained every time it comes on. Its visual effects and casting are spot on.

Matthew opens with a serious line, “Space. The final frontier.” And then he mocks it with disinterest, “Eh!” A snub, perhaps to Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson going to space in 2021, he pulls on a chord to lower his hot air balloon to some bustling metropolis. The juxtaposition was fun.

Back on the ground, we see a guy wearing a sweatshirt with “Trail Blazer” on it. He looks up at the balloon as if seeking answers from above. And there’s Matthew in his hot air balloon to answer, “It’s not time to escape. It’s time to engage.” Perhaps an underlying message about transitioning out of the pandemic as well as focusing on new opportunities in the now.

He continues to offer words of advice from aloft, “Time to plant more trees,” he says to a farmer. “It’s time to build more trust,” he says to a couple getting married. “It’s time to make more space for all of us,” he offers to a boardroom of executives in a skyscraper.

He continues, “While others look to the Metaverse and Mars, let’s stay here and restore ours.” I like that line. I think it shows compassion to all the people who are tired of hearing about FANG companies getting the spotlight, artfully straddling the need to improve the economy and environment.

“Yes, it’s time to blaze our trail. Because the new frontier. It ain’t rocket science. It’s right here,” he says, exuding his charming confidence with a wry smile.

The spot ends with him strutting in an empty space with mountains in the backdrop that looks like the High Sierras.

The message is you can feel more relaxed and optimistic with Salesforce as a business tool. We didn’t learn as much about its products as we did about the company’s values – awareness of climate change, inclusion, equality, and transparency. With that in mind, it appears this was also an ad for its stock. Could it go to the moon next?

 

Wealthfront – Invest for the long term on your terms.

 

I love the way this commercial playfully shows that investments decisions aren’t as easy as ordering off a menu as we see several parties at a restaurant trying to make sense of their choices.

It begins with an angry father who has seen his investment drop 20% after acting a tip from his young wunderkind, Wall St. wannabe son.

Next a man donning a snake around his neck touting, “It’s snake-themed cryto. What don’t you get?” in a condescending manner. His partner admits, “Everything” while she takes a selfie of herself. Aren’t we all wary of snakes in the investment world?

Then it cuts to two young women, twinning in black turtlenecks, glued to their phones, and lusting at the possibility of investing in oil on Mars.

It ends with a down-to-earth couple who only have one thing on their mind – ordering French toast.

The casting of this commercial was superb. It included multiple generations to appeal to a broader audience. The wardrobe played a huge role in making this cast of characters entertaining to watch and juxtaposing the smart investors from the short-term investors.

These outlandish investment scenarios made for great satire after witnessing the volatility of meme and cryto stocks in the past year. Wealthfront makes a compelling case for the peace of mind that comes from investing in solid funds over the long run.

Artistic merit: 10/10

Technical merit: 10/10

 

All of these efforts were pure gold. Yes, they tied. It’s hard to pick a favorite commercial that’s airing during these Winter Olympic Games. There were so many elements that these companies and their ad agencies’ creative teams absolutely landed – the visual and sound effects, the supporting music and casting, the strategies, and the copy. Just like the athletes, they had to prepare these TV spots perfectly for the Olympics.