The Top 10 Winter Olympics Ads, From Prints To Promo Videos

With every professional sport comes a huge amount of prestige and publicity, but the Olympic Games take that to a whole different level. The Winter Olympics -- set to be held this February in PyeongChang, South Korea -- has already attracted a huge amount of attention (and it hasn't even officially begun yet). Whether it’s a television ad, a social media promotion, or even a typical written article, you’ve probably been bombarded with news and views on the upcoming games recently.

And with PyeongChang 2018 just a few weeks away, we thought it would be an excellent time to take a look at how the Winter Games have been promoted over the last 94 years. Obviously, times have changed quite a bit since then -- there was no Facebook, no television, and the most common way to promote an event was over the radio, through the newspaper or on printed posters. This big leap in both advertising and technology has resulted in some truly stunning and vastly different campaigns.

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1. The Top Intricate Print Ad: Chamonix, France — 1924

What better place to start than with the inaugural Winter Olympic Games, held in Chamonix, France in 1924. This iconic poster by Auguste Matisse depicts an eagle soaring above the bobsleigh track, where you’ll notice that the bobsleighs look considerably different to today’s streamlined, sleek models.

It’s quite a powerful poster that manages to capture the prestige associated with an Olympic event while also showcasing the French nationality with the flag at the clutches of the eagle.

2. The Best Bold Print Ad: Innsbruck, Austria — 1964

The 1964 games get a double feature from us on this list. First up, this crisp, edgy poster stands out from other promotional graphic designs of the 1960s. The 3D effect created by the sharp edges and crisp cut typography is incredibly effective. The snowflake design oozes the chilly, wintery sensation that you naturally associate with the games, and the Olympic emblem sits prominently front and center.

3. The Nostalgic Promotional Video Ad: Innsbruck, Austria from ABC — 1964

This clip of ABC’s promotional coverage of the Winter Games in 1964 really is an insight into what sports broadcasting used to be like. While it’s not the best quality, you can still get a feel for the speed, danger, and intensity associated with the high-octane winter sports.

4. The Clean Print Ad: Lake Placid — 1980

The 1980 games returned to the USA and Lake Placid was the host city for the second time (they previously held the games in 1932). The poster features the official emblem of a mountain and a double Olympic cauldron -- a commemoration for the 1932 Games.

The clean-cut design features the American colors of red, white and blue, and makes good use of the black typography on a white background for added clarity.

5. The Call-to-Action Print Ad: Calgary, Canada — 1988

Calgary hosted the Winter Games in 1988 and they took full advantage of the privilege to promote their city. On the official promotional poster, you get a striking viewing of the city, which is crowned by both the Olympic rings, and the official emblem. The poster is entitled "Come Together in Calgary Host City for the XV Olympic Winter Games February 13-28, 1988 Calgary, Alberta, Canada."

Interestingly, this was the first time that the games were extended to 16 days, thus including three weekends and likely making their push towards tourism even more successful.

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6. The Most Dramatic Promotional Video Ad: 2002 Salt Lake Olympics from NBC

The 2002 promotional video released by NBC ahead of the Salt Lake Winter Olympics is also as dramatic as the Games itself. The video showcases some of the highlights from recent games and events, plus all of the emotions that athletes go through during the Games.

Meanwhile, there’s also a building story unfolding where a woman is scaling a seemingly unscalable mountain. She reaches the top and holds the Olympic torch alight, at which point the narrator says “light the fire within.”

7. The Excitement-Building Promotional Video Ad: Tourism Whistler 2010 Olympics

Ahead of the Vancouver Games in 2010, Origin Design + Communications teamed up with Tourism Whistler to create this promotional video as part of their wider campaign to showcase the mountain range and slopes. The key purpose was also to build anticipation around the Games coming to the area, and communicate the energy building in the air as the Games got ever closer, which the agency certainly achieved. 

8. The Best Theatrical Promotional Video Ad: Winter Olympics 2014: Trailer  from BBC Sport

The British Broadcasting System (BBC) went all out to create a trailer for the 2014 Sochi Winter Games that would rival that of a cinematic thriller. Ironically, it would be easy to mistake the trailer for a new The Lord of the Rings film or similar fantasy show, but it is, in fact, the British broadcasters attempt at building up the anticipation around the games.

Mountain ranges and theatrical music, are combined with the deep, dark voice-over by none other than Charles Dance (you probably know him as Tywin Lannister from Game of Thrones). It’s a mighty 90 seconds of film, peaking with athletes taking on ‘nature,’ who was represented by the voice of Dance throughout the trailer.

9. The Family-Focused Promotional Video Ad: P&G 2018 Winter Olympics Promo #LoveOverBias

No one loves like Mom, according to Procter & Gamble in their 2018 Winter Olympics promotional campaign, “#LoveOverBias.”

The 90-second video takes the viewer on a journey through the lives of moms who are supporting their kids who have aspirations of being in the Winter Games. The aim of the ad is to remove any bias surrounding the games, whether it be of color, religion, disability or sexual orientation.

It’s a poignant trailer, quite contrasting to the previous BBC 2014 example, which culminates with the line “Imagine if the world could see what a mom sees.”

10. The Exhilarating Promotional Video Ad: NBC 2018 Winter Olympics The Mountains Are Calling

Finally, NBC Sports put together a string of promotional material for the 2018 Games, with this short, 30-second clip leading the way. It’s a whirlwind glimpse into the athletes competing, the venue that will be hosting the Games, and the spectacle surrounding it.

The video combines gradually intensifying music with impactful copy, which says, “the mountains are calling, and I must go.”

Whether these ads were image-heavy posters or visually stimulating videos, each ad successfully captures viewers from all over the world. Through meaningful aesthetics and theatrical video editing, these designs successfully united the world. 

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