SBD/February 6, 2014/Olympics

United To Debut New Olympics Ad Narrated By Matt Damon During Opening Ceremony

USOC sponsor United Airlines yesterday unveiled a new Team USA-themed TV spot ahead of the Sochi Games. The 60-second ad, titled "Athletes Abroad," is narrated by actor Matt Damon and will air during NBC's Opening Ceremony broadcast tomorrow. Athletes appearing in the commercial will post links via social media to behind-the-scenes videos of the shoot. United developed the campaign with its global creative agency, mcgarrybowen. Horizon Media managed the media investment and Momentum Worldwide supported the overall campaign. Athletes appearing in the spot are listed below (United).

ATHLETE SPORT
Nick Cunningham Bobsled
Shani Davis Speedskating
Gracie Gold Figure Skating
Ralph Green Para-Alpine Skiing
Erin Hamlin Luge
Sarah Hendrickson Ski Jumping
Travis Jayner Speedskating
Allison Jones Para-Alpine Skiing
Steve Langton Bobsled
Dallas Roberts Bobsled
Melanie Schwartz Para-Alpine Skiing
Curt Tomasevicz Bobsled

DECKED OUT: ADWEEK's Emma Bazilian wrote the spot "manages to fit an impressive amount of Team USA fervor into a single minute." Since Olympians "aren’t nearly as much fun when they're not actually competing, the various skaters, bobsledders, skiers and lugers featured in the ad arrive for their flight already suited up for the games in copious amounts of red, white and blue." For the soundtrack, United chose "the patriotic favorite 'Rhapsody in Blue' because what’s more American than Gershwin?" Two more spots are "planned to follow -- United has also invested in a heavy social media and native ad push." The company "will be asking viewers to use the hashtags #AthletesAboard and #TeamUSAfriendly in their Olympic tweets, and will also be sponsoring interactive content on The New York Times' website, videos on Yahoo Screen and BuzzFeed posts" (ADWEEK.com, 2/5).

ONCE BITTEN, TWICE SHY: In Chicago, Lewis Lazare noted McDonald's has "chosen to spotlight" the Olympic tradition of medal biting in a new TV commercial called "Celebrate With A Bite" from DDB, Chicago. The spot features a "fast-paced montage of images of athletes being awarded Olympic medals," and "somewhat awkwardly tries to make the connection between athletes biting down on their medals and McDonald's fans biting into Chicken McNuggets and other menu items." The Sochi Games mark the "10th consecutive Olympic Games where McDonald's will be the official restaurant serving both the athletes and visitors" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 2/5). Meanwhile, U.S. speedskater Shani Davis yesterday was asked about his success on a diet of McDonald's. He "laughed and said he only eats it once in a while and avoids burgers, instead sticking with nuggets and fries." Davis noted the McDonald's in the Athlete Village "opened up a few days ago, so, that was really awesome. They had some fun American food." He added, "I grew up eating McDonald's, so I'll probably be an old man eating McDonald's. It's fun eating it every once in a while. I don't eat it every day. Besides, Usain Bolt ate it every day and he did quite well for himself' (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 2/6).
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