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Tapping into the Human Spirit

Every time the Olympic Games come around, I’m reminded why I love it: The spirit, the competition, the drama – the whole vibe is nothing short of contagious.

The London Olympics this summer were made up of many moments when the whole world seemed to connect and collectively engage. Among my favorites: the first Saudi woman in history to compete in track and field, the U.S. “Fabulous Five” gymnastics team’s gold medal victory, Andy Murray’s smashing win over Roger Federer for the gold in men’s tennis, and Oscar Pistorius, a South African paraplegic, competing to run the 400-meter race.

The advertising during the games has been particularly powerful, successfully aligning with the overall spirit of the Olympics. P&G was the standout in my opinion — tapping into the emotion of a mother’s pride and dedication with the slogan, “While the rest of the world honors Olympic athletes, P&G honors the moms who got them there.” Needless to say, this campaign struck a chord with moms on my block and around the world.

As the Olympics come to a close, I find myself remembering a time when my dreams were bigger — when there were no limits. The experience leaves me with a renewed sense of the beauty and endurance of the human spirit. The Olympics are a mother’s dream, a child’s dream, an athletes dream, and let’s face it, a marketer’s dream. A dream of a better time, a better place and a better world where we’re all connected—and we’re all playing on the same team.

As marketers, our job is to connect. We try to find moments that can be captured, harnessed and remembered. I suggest we look no further than the Olympics for inspiration.

16 Responses

  1. Tami,

    I agree that P&G knocked it out of the park with their Olympic ads.  As you know, it's incredibly difficult to capture true emotion in a 30 second spot, but P&G did it and did it well.  While these ads spoke primarily to moms, they captured this dad's attention.



  2. Ted Rubin says:


    Love this post and feel so much the same way about all that we were honored to watch, think about, imagine, and internalize. In particular I thought the US Olympic Women totally ROCKED. I am Inspired, Proud… totally overcome with Admiration. I want to thank them particularly, and all who participated as athletes and in any other respect, for making this a special few days.

    I am really going to miss all the amazingly touching, inspiring, and heartfelt commercials from the Olympics… I barely remember any of the brands who spent enormous amounts of money producing and buying the time to show them, but love the entertainment. P&G is the only brand, as you mentioned, who really made an impact, but cannot credit them, as Armen has, with knocking it out of the park. In fact I believe in a big respect, they totally dropped the ball. Their campaign was amazing, and deserving of awards and kudos, but what happended to the social component??? Seemed to be a total lack of Social integration during what can only be dubbed… the Twitter Olympics. 

    No real user-generated contact… no, "Tell us stories about your Mom." No interaction with the people posting on the Facebook page and Twitter seemed to be totally fogotten as a engagement tool for brands. Just seemed to me from a social perspective, all these brands were asleep at the switch or simply following the guidance of their agencies telling them, like they tell most… make a campaign, have a Facebook page, maybe a Pinterest page, don't worry about staffing we'll take care of that, and it is all about us broadcasting, that we can scale, but forget about the interaction and engagement, that's overrated. How about taking this past the Olympics and making it a social movement about honoring Mom. Ok, I have ranted enough.

    I was moved, inspired, touched and encouraged by these Olympics and will miss the great entertainment, but truly remember little about the "advertisers/sponsors." 

    Tami, love, love, love your concept of… Tapping into the Human Spirit (think I am going to use that). Hope some brand has the foresight to tap into your open heart and brilliant mind. 

  3. Thank you Ted!  I completely agree with you that P&G missed out on the social component, particularly with user generated content. The participation from Moms could have been incredibly powerful.  I'm guessing that P&G, like many established brands,  is more comfortable with traditional push advertising.  That said, they did it so well!  I recieved the ad from several moms on my block with a note that said "Have the tissues out!" So kudos for a good 'ad campaign' but a collective sigh for the missed opportunity!:)

  4. Some great points from both Tami and Ted. We all have to remember that we're really at the very beginning of this revolution. I think this year's Olympic Games will be considered and analyzed by our peers for some time, as a model of the first global event that received 24-hr social media coverage, for good or for bad. We'll talk about the things that worked, and make note of the missed opportunities.

    There's no question in my mind that major Brands continue to misuse, if not completely misunderstand, social media's potential for direct engagement; and, more importantly, the ability to convey a brand's culture at a very personal and immediate level.

    I like to joke that the new marketing should be like the old marketing. I think of my Grandfather's shop, how he knew his best customers by name, listened to their suggestions and needs, respected their hard-earned money and provided good value. That's the potential of social media marketing. We still have a long way to go but we're getting there.


    • Morey, Thank you for your thoughtful response.  I love the story of your Grandfather’s shop.  It’s of course hard for large companies to live up to that type of personalization but it’s certainly a laudible goal for our marketing and business relationships.  I like to think we’re making progress too – baby steps –  I’m fond of saying!

  5. I have to agree with Ted about being surprised that P&G didn't do more in the social sphere.  For years they have been unequivocal  leaders and innovators in Social Media and alternative Marketing vehicles. I wonder what's really at play here, if this was principally a corporate branding effort and as such, the individual brands had limited invlovement – just speculating?

  6. Jan says:

    From a marketing perspective, it would be interesting to understand why the Olympics do so well compared to other major attention grabbers. Of course there is the dream of doing something that no one has ever done before – setting a new world record. But then that is something many of us try to do in our day jobs every day: invent something new, develop a new market, find a new business model, use a new pricing strategy to by-pass all competitors. If we had the Business Olympics, the WSJ would write about different world records being broken regularly.

    So there has to be something else – maybe it's that the unpredictable can happen all the time. The predicted winner has a stumble, and an underdog has a home run. Makes for a great compelling story. We lose against the predicted winner all the time, so seeing an underdog snatch that world record has a feel good moment to it. Most advertising and Hollywood movies have predictable endings to them. Getting something unpredictable is a nice change of pace, and people connect with that.

    Stop the mutual bashing of the two leading brands – be it DirectTV vs. Dish, or Aleve vs. Tylenol. Everyone hates it. On the other side, when Apple and iPhone edge out all TelCos combined, people love it.

    Then there is the international community aspect. It's one of the rare moments when most (not all, but most) political, religious, and other differences are being set aside and the world comes togehter as a community. In a daily routine and air waves dominated by partisan politics, lobbying, and all kind of one-upmanship, it is a nice change of pace and breath of fresh air, and people connect with that.

    Everyone pushes their product, few brands build authentic relationships first and have the product come second. It's hard to aford in today's fast past business cycles, when most budgets and business strategies give the four-year election cycles of politicians a run for their money. 

    In some of the professional forums of the broadcast/film community there has been the expected share of debate and controversy of the technical aspects of the Olympics over camera coverage, editing, air time, etc. So once you get beyond the human moments, we were back to the daily grind.

    But I think marketers should look at what made the Olympics special and people connect, and see if there are ways to duplicate that as we connect to people on behalf of brands and products.

  7. Tami – I apprecate your blog post and agree the Olympics were an inspiration. 

  8. Tami: Lovely post.  "As marketers, our job is to connect."  Spot on. @MargaretMoiloy

  9. […] Tami Cannizzaro’s Tapping into the Human Spirit post, and feel so much the same way about all that we were honored to watch, think about, imagine, […]

    • Andres says:

      Posted on I’d must test with you here, which isn’t something I usaluly do! I get pleasure from reading a post that will make folks think. Thanks for permitting me to remark!

  10. Amar Trivedi says:

    Olympics, Marketing, Great content, Sporting moments, emotions, inspiration 

    Hi Tami, 

    I liked your blog post on far too many levels for me to comment individually. However, this one is a keeper – "The London Olympics this summer were made up of many moments when the whole world seemed to connect and collectively engage." Absolute gem!

    Here's my blogpost on London Olympics:

    Can't agree more: The Olympic Games bring out the best of sporting spirit and marketing prowess. (ps: I agree with everything but… do you really think Andy Murray can beat Federer – in straight sets 🙂


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