Like most of you I’ve been watching the Olympics on a nightly basis and it’s the bits in between the coverage which have really gotten had me thinking. The marketing tactics used in the U.S., and likely throughout the world, are a bit frightening to say the least and the Olympic ads are the most potent example I’ve seen recently. McDonald’s is peddled as the food of Olympic athletes while anyone that knows a thing about nutrition knows few athletes will even touch the stuff. Kellogg’s peddles their sugar packed cereal to kids as the key to becoming a great athlete. The only accurate commercial I’ve seen is one where an athlete says, “I haven’t ordered dessert in three years.”
Nike is unrelenting in their advertising of shoes, watches, sweat wicking shirts, etc… all marketed as the key to you going from a jog-walker to a 6-minute miler. It’s ironic to me then, that one of the most powerful, inspiring and least-materialistic messages I’ve seen in advertising during the games comes from one of the most notorious pushers of “stuff.”
The above ad is part of Nike’s Find Your Greatness campaign and it’s the ad that resonates with me best. A fat kid, in a regular old t-shirt, shorts, shoes and socks busting his ass jogging — because in real life exercise isn’t pretty. The ad highlights an all important fact; greatness is relative. Greatness isn’t only present in the sleek, slender and highly toned athletes of the Olympic games. Greatness is individual, it’s not televised, sometimes it’s as simple as putting one foot in front of the other one more time.
If we could all step back from relenting over the fact that we’ll never be Olympic athletes or gold medal winners and instead would focus on personal greatness we might just be able to realize that individual greatness is well within our reach.