‘Athletes Aboard’ to debut during Opening Ceremony
By Emma Bazilian | February 5, 2014
Now that the Super Bowl ad bonanza is (finally) over, it’s time we all take a well-deserved break from obsessively tracking TV spots created for major sporting events. Just kidding! The 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics is just a day away (although the opening ceremony won’t air until Friday—figure that one out), and while Sochi is still scrambling to finish preparations for the big event, here in the U.S., marketers have already kicked off an onslaught of Team USA-themed campaigns.
One of the latest comes from United Airlines, which, in case you were unaware, has been the official airline of Team USA for the past 34 years. In “Athletes Aboard,” a 60-second spot created with mcgarrybowen, we get a look at how the athletes are traveling to the Sochi Games. (That is, if their flights haven’t all been canceled. Thanks, weather!)
“Athletes Aboard” 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. (No word on how those razor-sharp skates were able to make it past the TSA officers.) For the soundtrack, we get the patriotic favorite “Rhapsody in Blue” because what’s more American than Gershwin? (Oh right, “America.”) And to narrate the spot, United hired the universally beloved Matt Damon.
“The spot playfully celebrates United’s unique familiarity with the needs of Team USA, and it evokes huge pride to see both athletes and employees—all real—who, each in their own way, ‘carry the hopes of a nation,’” said mcgarrybowen ecd Haydn Morris.
In addition to the TV spot—“Athletes Aboard” will make its prime-time debut during the Opening Ceremony on Friday evening, and 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.