Olympissed

Olympic ad wrap up:
We at the AAA can’t have much of an olympic ad piss party because we were so disgusted by the political and social justice issues surrounding the olympics themselves. We were too busy watching our friends and allies get abused, detained and harassed while most tv viewers drooled over swimmers’ abdominals.

oooh, abs! buy my stuff now!Luckily, I watched the Olympics twice and easily discovered a festering sore– Nike’s campaign, who had the clever idea to protect their investments by utilizing the DRAMA and SUFFERING of losing athletes. Because really, do we identify more with Jackie Joyner Kersee, or Marion Jones? Where was Nike when I was giving mock interviews in rollerblades in my garage at age 11? I definitely sucked at sports– the ultimate underdog! I would have been perfect!

Apparently the campaign wasn’t necessarily meant to be like this. It was a strategy to save face in case any of their endorsed athletes disappointed them. Choosing athletes as product pushers is a risky move… remember reebok’s “Dan and Dave” campaign, where, oops! Dan didn’t qualify for the olympics five weeks before the event. Ouch.

But capitalizing off of anyone’s humiliation or embarassment is bound to bite you in the ass. Nike, in the ad campaign, turned out to be the biggest loser– because they made some really uncute decisions when an anonymous blogger started a rumor:

Liu Xiang, the Chinese track and fielder who did not compete “because of an injury,” was pushed out because Nike didn’t want him to lose, which they felt was inevitable.
Nike suspiciously overreacted, making threats to hunt down the blogger like Osama Bin Laden. Who did they ask to help them? The Chinese Government!

Charlie Brooks, the representative for Nike, assured us that this wasn’t about freedom of speech, but protecting brand image. Oh, okay Charlie! I won’t read into the situation. A manhunt over an internet rumor in an intensely loving and fair country like China is just about branding! That’s fine, then. I thought, for a moment, it might be about valuing money and objects over human beings… which is also why I thought you’d exploit a suffering and embarassed athlete’s misfortune to hock sportswear. And now, Charlie Brooks won’t talk about it anymore.

I think Marina Hyde from the Guardian says it best in her column on the foible:

Don’t Brooks’ employers find that at odds with the kind of inspirational rhetoric that drives their adverts, where mavericks speak truth to power, and the individual is fetishised? No comment. Does Nike have a position on democracy? No comment. Because it feels like just the kind of abstract noun Nike would be drawn to in the cause of selling stuff. No comment.

What will happen next? Advertising screw-ups are almost as breathtaking as the Olympics themselves. Just think of all the drama Aeschylus missed out on, living in the BA (Before Advertising) period!

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