Olympics and Advertising: The Oddest Couple

Let the Venting begin!

Watching the Winter Olympics was great, and then it went to commercial break. Now, we all feel this way about commercials: overstated, overly sensationalized, meagerly authentic, preposterously compared, trash; all centered around a simple product, like Oreos. (I’m truly sorry to pick on Oreos, but really, you’re a sponsor for the US Olympic Team? Because everyone knows, to become a world-class athlete, you must ingest a daily amount of Oreo in cows milk). Also, I know people say, and smartly, just mute that stuff! But here is where I draw the line: Association, then Equivalency, and finally, Sponsorship.

The Winter Games are packed with magnitude, and emotion, and tension; and then we, as viewers, have to endure advertisements that prey on that emotional intensity of say, selling a truck, or drinking carbonated sugar water.

(side note: don’t drink Coca-Cola made in the US, it contains high fructose corn syrup, which they switched to in the 1980’s because it’s way cheaper than pure cane sugar. It’s basically like drinking poison, carbonated flavored poison.)     

So maybe I’m just fuming, maybe I’m being too sensitive. I know Americans are so hardy and never pushed to do anything they don’t want to do, never coerced into something, never fearful of the unknown, always making the best and most-informed decisions, I know all that. Or, maybe I’m just stating the obvious, that advertisements and sponsorships have gotten out of control, and maybe we should collectively inform the advertisers and their products than the other way around.

Advertisements have always sought to capitalize on our pathos. It’s just so recognizable and out of place during the Olympics. Watching the 2018 Winter Olympics proves just how weird some sponsors for athletic excellence really are. Here’s a quick list of some Team USA sponsors: Hershey, Kellogg’s, Nabisco, Coca-Cola, Liberty Mutual Insurance, Toyota, P&G, Bridgestone, Intel, The Dow Chemical Co.––you get the idea, pretty much stuff that is analogous to elite physical exercise (sarcastic voice).

And this is where we come to the bizarre union of Ads and Sports: the stealing (or piggy-backing) of the power of sports by advertisers. Sports provide an outlet, a brief and exciting getaway from our emotionally turbulent lives, a way to channel or vent our chaotic existence into something simple (put a ball in a basket) yet strong (physique of the human body). In every way, our anatomy, our burning passion, our anger, is represented through Sports (golf is the exception). Advertisements seek to exploit this necessity, and misappropriate it into the need for a product, a manufactured and counterfeit item, a consumable inanimate thing.

Of course, the kicker is money. Many Olympic athletes are stretched thin financially. If they don’t have endorsement deals (the big names), or if they don’t win a medal (medal “bonus”), they don’t get paid to be there. Isn’t it time for us as a Nation to sponsor these Olympic athletes, instead of a paltry stipend or limited sponsorship money from companies whose products these athletes would never think of using? Having to promote a product he/she is opposed to, just for the sake of training and completing for your country, is a tough position in which to place on an Olympic athlete.

Furthermore, why aren’t the Olympics free for every American to watch? Like, easy free (not free-trial period free). It should be! Guess what? Most nations provide free viewing of the Olympics to their population. No advertisements. Hellooo Mcfly! Do we really have to monetize everything? These great athletes complete under the flag of our great country, and the least NBC, or our Government, could do, is offer it up to the American people for free.    

So in conclusion, keep watching the Olympics (if you have cable or a working antenna), and keep muting the tv during commercial breaks…. and Coca-cola, please don’t let this article, or my dislike for your drinks, dissuade you from sponsoring this blog.