Thoughts from three days of Games:
- I caught some flak for saying so on Twitter, but I'm liking NBC's new slogan, "Chime In." "Chime" is an allusion to the network's old three-note audio logo, which was first heard on radio in 1929. And "chime in" makes it seem interactive.¹ Compared to broadcasters' pathetic past sloganeering attempts--anyone remember ABC's "TV Is Good"?--it's practically Shakespearean. As much as I like the slogan, though, I'm a whole lot less fond of the promotional ad that turns the network's stars into shills. By the way, the NBC chimes were the first sound to receive trademark protection, in 1950. And those three notes? They're G3, E4, and C4 (middle C). More on the NBC chimes here.
- Would it be too much to ask NBC to identify the expert commentators at the events? Who the heck was China expert "Josh" at the opening ceremonies? I watched and listened for a couple of hours and never found out. Who was doing the fencing commentary? He was terrific--I learned a lot. (Those little staccato runs the fencers make? They're called stutter steps.) And I know that "Rowdy" is Rowdy Gaines, the three-time Olympic gold medalist (100m freestyle), but if you don't normally follow swimming you might find it helpful to be reminded now and then.
- I can't distinguish one car commercial from another.
- Tell me again why it's OK for NBA players to participate in the supposedly amateur Olympic Games?
- During Olympics programming I saw two of the stunning new United Airlines commercials, "Sea Orchestra" and "Two Worlds." I was wowed by the inventive animation (reportedly even more gorgeous in high-def) and by the music. United has been using Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" as its theme for more than 20 years, but I can't recall a more effective or creatively scored version than this one, performed by the L.A. Phil.² Creating this spot and others in the campaign was an international effort; read more here. Watch all four spots here.
- The McDonald's ad "Victory" has no dialogue--just irresistible music ("A Minha Menina" by the 1960s Brazilian band Os Mutantes) and an equally irresistible story: at a kids' soccer match, the winners gloat--but the losers get Happy Meals. Would I prefer it if the kids were eating carrot sticks and homemade cookies? Yes, I would. Do I think McDonald's is evil? Yes, I do. Nevertheless, I love this commercial. Agency is DDB/Chicago.
¹ Emphasis on "seem." In real life, NBC worked feverishly to prevent Olympics fans from getting a real-time jump on the network's tape-delayed opening ceremonies; the New York Times 's Brian Stelter called it "digital whack-a-mole."
² The ad is so gorgeous, you're tempted to forget what a living hell the actual experience of flying is nowadays. On the other hand, it helps to remember that the campaign is promoting international first- and business-class travel. They get Gershwin; we get peanuts.