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Volume 24 No. 157
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Time For A Commercial Break: Memorable Sports Ads From 2012

In an increasingly crowded marketplace, companies now more than ever want to create an advertisement or campaign that stands above the rest. Here are some ads that made an impression on us this year.

I LOVE YOU, MAN: Hipster cool met ferocious linebacker in a series of ads for EA Sports’ “Madden NFL 13” featuring actor Paul Rudd and Ravens LB Ray Lewis. The two unlikely combatants spent their days trash-talking during their marathon “Madden” games, at one point playing “Game 192 of 201.” Rudd should be commended for his audacity at taunting one of the NFL’s most-feared hitters during their games, but their on-screen chemistry was clearly on display and the “Madden” franchise is the ultimate beneficiary.

IT’S GOOD TO BE KING: Heat F LeBron James has always been a marketing icon, but after finally winning his first NBA title in June, James' image has seemingly softened. The new-look LeBron clearly played out in his ads for the Samsung Galaxy Note II phone. In the spots, LeBron is seen having breakfast with his children, interacting with fans, getting a haircut at the local barbershop and generally appearing accessible and down-to-earth. The spot depicted a LeBron at ease with himself and his fame.

THAT’S TURRIBLE: Charles Barkley working in a company’s IT department? It happened in a series of ads for CDW. The Basketball HOFer is shown compensating for his lack of IT skills by showcasing his basketball prowess for the company’s hoops team as a “ringer.” However, Barkley in later spots displays his golf skills -- or more precisely lack thereof -- with company execs and clients. The affable Barkley always seems to shine on-camera despite the scarcity of dialogue he is given.

GREATNESS FOUND: Nike’s “Find Your Greatness” ad that ran repeatedly during the London Games featured an overweight 12-year-old boy running alone on a desolate road. The narrator in the commercial talked about how greatness is an abstract concept, something that is invented and not pre-ordained. Nike once again struck a nerve with consumers by creating a spot that resonates beyond just sports fans. The spot was widely lauded for its inspirational message.

THE 10 SPOT: Redskins rookie QB Robert Griffin III has taken the NFL by storm, carrying the Redskins to the precipice of the playoffs and carving out an impressive off-the-field endorsement portfolio. adidas’ spot for its adiZero 5-Star shoes featured Griffin much like his marketing persona: seemingly everywhere. The spot shows RGIII getting into the head of his opponent, causing him to see Griffin as the bus driver, police officer, team trainer and, of course, playing quarterback for the opposing team.

THE KID’S ALRIGHT: Rickie Fowler is no different than anyone else -- at least that’s what Crowne Plaza tried to prove in an ad that aired throughout the golf season. But who else has analyst Ian Baker-Finch providing commentary throughout such mundane activities as running on the treadmill and eating breakfast? Crowne Plaza became the latest company to hop on the Fowler bandwagon and hope his mass appeal to young fans rubs off on them.

Louis Vuitton wastes little time capitalizing on
Phelps' success at London Games

JUMPING INTO THE FASHION POOL: The London Games were barely over when Louis Vuitton launched a campaign to celebrate Michael Phelps as the most decorated Olympian ever. The print ads featured Phelps alongside former gymnast Larisa Latynina, whose record he broke. There were reports the ads, which were leaked the week after the Olympics concluded, were in violation of the IOC’s infamous Rule 40. But Phelps’ agent insisted the swimmer did not authorize their release.

IN REAL TIME: AT&T deserved a medal itself for how the Olympic sponsor integrated record-breaking and award-winning performances of Team USA athletes, including Ryan Lochte, Rebecca Soni and Sanya Richards-Ross, into TV ads. The spots, created by BBDO, N.Y., aired the day of the respective event. The turnaround to produce the ads was quick, but the spots left a lasting impression. Adweek’s Tim Nudd indicated that the spots were a “clever way for advertisers to tap into the heartwarming sentiment generated by the Olympics.”