#SwimTrends: The Best Olympic TV Commercials (So Far)

What makes a great TV commercial during the Olympic Games? I have two simple ingredients, so let’s not overthink this. It has to convey emotion and it has to use Olympians vs. actors. The X factor is if my teenage daughters want me to rewind the DVR.

Below is a collection (in no certain order) of the most moving commercials so far in the Olympic lead-up and through Opening Ceremonies. The online versions allow extended edits videos and every one below is worth the extra time. Use #SwimTrends to argue your case or alert me if I missed anything in Part 1 of the ongoing series of great commercials.


Poking fun at Olympians and Olympic sports makes for a series of hilarious spots with this healthy dose of British humor. Especially when British cyclist Bradley Wiggins and other Team GB athletes are in on the gag. See the whole series at Campaignlive.co.uk.


Milk Life (MilkPEP)

The world perks up to the journey of Olympians right before the Olympic Games. This spot from MilkPEP* featuring 2012 Olympian Caitlin Leverenz picks up the story at an early age and the seemingly-subtle, yet grossly impactful support of parents along the way.


Under Armour

Non-Olympic partner Under Armour highlights the cold, harsh training that goes into making the Greatest Olympian of All Time. If this was a poster, I would hang it up in my bedroom.


Channel 4 (UK Paralympic Broadcaster)

The sheer production on this commercial to promote the Paralympic Games broadcast in the UK is amazing and the message is positive without being preachy. This is guaranteed to make you smile. Then, watch it again to see how amazingly complex the shoot was while maintaining the simplest, straightforward, authentic message. Brilliant and hands-down my favorite ad of the year.



As a follow-up to the enormously successful #ThankYouMom campaign, P&G brought the perspective of families who endure hardship as part of their journey to the Olympics and the moms who supported them. While darker than the original Thank You, Mom commercials, this is a heart-string tug.


Minute Maid

This extended spot with Missy Franklin and her parents is not only a sure-fire case of the sniffles, but it’s also a genuine look into who Missy is as a person. Hope you like your orange juice with a tissue.



How does a car company support Olympians and Paralympians? By using its engineering expertise to make sport better. BMW* has supported swimming performance and in this spot makes one of the most innovating track racing wheelchairs in the world and challenges stereotypes in the process.


Dick’s Sporting Goods

This lead-up spot to the Olympic Games features how the sporting goods retailer supports Olympians and Paralympians in their pursuit of their dreams with jobs. The raw mix of Olympians and Paralympians is part sneak peek into their non-glamorous lives with a huge dose of inspiration.



In this spot from Chobani*, inspiration is drawn from Paralympian and Purple Heart-winning U.S. Army officer Melissa Stockwell. Serving your country comes in many ways.


United Airlines

In one of the most authentic uses of Olympians, United Airlines ties the skills of Olympians and Paralympians to what is normally the dull routine of flying.

Over the last few years the airline safety videos have lightened up a bit. Ok, a lot! But few, if any, have taken a property such as the Olympic and Paralympic Team and incorporated it into their typically dry and boring safety video and made it so clever.



Powerful imagery and music inspires us all from Omega*.



Olympians from around the world have to get to “work” in Rio in this creative carpool of swimming (watch for Missy Franklin), throwing, biking, jumping and running. The rock-paper-scissors stalemate with two Canadian synchronized swimmers steals the show, and of course we have a Morgan Freeman voiceover connected with Visa*.


Visa – Refugee Swimmer

Guaranteed tears in 20 seconds or less. Just watch and continue to learn more on this incredible story of Refugee Olympian Yusra Mardini.



Olympic skier Lindsay Vonn tries her hand at various summer Olympic sports and shows her acting chops along the way. This one is for smiles.

* = USA Swimming partner

Use the #SwimTrends hashtag and be a Swim Trend Spotter yourself and let me know what you think is important for this column and online. This blog originally posted on USASwimming.org.

Matt Farrell is the Chief Marketing Officer of USA Swimming. Follow and share your #SwimTrends using the hashtag or tagging @MattFarrell_ on Twitter.


Categories: Olympics

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1 reply


  1. #SwimTrends: Fast Fashion, What the Athletes Are Wearing in Rio 2016 – SportsMarketingLab.com

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