Inspired: The Two Stand Out Ads of the Rio Olympics 2016

16th Aug

“Rule Yourself”



Having just won his 5th gold medal of the Rio Olympics and his 23rd overall, it is without doubt that Michael Phelps is an inspirational icon that represents the dizzy heights of being a winner. It is almost too easy for a brand to plug a product off the back of Phelps’ achievements, (just see Virgin Media’s Usain Bolt advert as an example of this). However, in the latest Under Armour campaign, ‘Rule Yourself’, released in the run up to the Olympics, we are confronted with the less glamorous side of Michael Phelps’ life. The campaign created by Droga5 sees Phelps, officially the greatest Olympian of all time, in the lead up to his last Olympics. It shows the rigorous training, the psychological strength and all the sacrifices it takes to create a champion.

The dramatic and emotive tone of the advert is aimed at millennial men; a demographic that respond well to inspirational experiences. Therefore, it is no surprise that the ad has become one of the most shared of the Rio Olympics.

The stirring lyrics of The Kills ‘The Last Goodbye’ adds to the immersive quality of the advert. This, in addition to the the raw and authentic visuals that depict the blood, sweat and tears of competing at the highest level creates a raw and real piece of work that audiences can connect with. After we see Phelps’ training process, we are left with a poignant sentence of text: “It’s what you do in the dark, that puts you in the light”.

However, ‘Rule Yourself’ was beaten to the top spot of most shared Olympics ad by the celebratory ‘We’re The Superhumans’ by Channel 4 and 4Creative. This advert, promoting the broadcasting of the Paralympic Games features a range of talented people from paralympians to mothers, all who have a disability.

‘Rule Yourself’ and ‘We’re The Superhumans’ both are inspirational pieces of work that show a reality that is not often portrayed by the media. It is rare that we see the likes of Michael Phelps struggling and living a mundane life, or people with disabilities celebrating their story. In the case of ‘We’re The Superhumans’, Channel 4 is depicting disability not as a disadvantage as it is usually portrayed, but as a positive. This powerful message of inclusion, acceptance and celebration makes us notice, hence making it the fifth most shared Olympics advert ever.

The success of these campaigns isn’t only evident through their incredible numbers of social media shares. ‘Rule Yourself and ‘We’re The Superhumans’ have also been critically acclaimed with both picking up Grand Prix’s at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. Thus, showing when it comes to making inspiring campaigns with a creative edge, it’s time to rethink stereotypes, avoid the cliches and just like Mr Phelps, lead from the front.

Read more about Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity here.