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TV ads to push Games

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MOSCOW — Once again, comedian Robin Williams is lending his voice to an International Olympic Committee campaign, this one to promote the 2002 Winter Games.

The second series of "Celebrate Humanity" commercials don't mention the 2002 Olympics or Salt Lake City but do feature athlete performances from past Winter Games.

The spots are similar to those that aired in advance of the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney — except they showcase winter athletes and at least two are aimed at Generation X viewers.

The winter athletes include the Jamaican bobsled team that inspired the movie, "Cool Runnings." Williams' voiceover reminds viewers that while they didn't win, "the world sure loved them for trying."

The more youthful spots offer images of punk-looking snowboarders and aerialists set to the music of Radiohead, Bob Marley and Daft Punk.

All of the commercials are intended to remind viewers "what's really important about the Olympics," said Dick Pound, the Canadian IOC member who oversees marketing.

"First of all it doesn't mention the IOC. Secondly, it doesn't show anybody in a suit. It's the joy of competition. It shows the history of the Winter Games. It shows all of the values that we think are represented by Olympic athletes," Pound said Monday.

Plus, he said, the campaign will also whet viewers' interest in watching the Games on TV. Television networks, especially NBC in the United States, are the single largest source of revenue for the IOC. Close behind are the companies that pay millions of dollars to become Olympic sponsors and millions more to air commercials during the Games.

The commercials will begin airing this month. A print advertising campaign is also being launched.

The IOC also announced Monday that the IOC Executive Board has recommended making outgoing IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch an honorary president and naming its Olympic museum in Switzerland for him.


E-MAIL: lisa@desnews.com