Design

Vancouver 2010 Olympic Print Ad Gallery

Adventures in brand diplomacy.

Through cold, through ice, through recession, the tradition of epic Olympic games print advertising prevails! The Olympics is always a hugely busy time for printers, as print advertisers – often with very different agendas – compete for attention on the world stage.

First, there's the official Olympic committee stuff – the mascots, the slogans – but most of all the carefully designed winter Olympic poster, from which springs all other print collateral and represents the very soul of a nation.

This winter in Vancouver, the green and blue maple leaf, shot through with scenes depicting the Canadian wilderness, has fans and critics. For some, the symbolism is too obscure, while others criticize it as being overworked.

It seems that at the Olympics, as in advertising, you can't please all the people all the time, and if you try, the result may be that nobody is satisfied.

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Next in line for print ad attention are local advertisers. Unlike the Olympic committee, Canadian businesses in Vancouver seem uncomplicatedly committed to the red and white of the country's flag, perhaps hoping to appeal to a broader Canadian audience, rather than a particularly 'west coast' state of mind.

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And then there comes the big guns, the truly international advertisers, each of whom have their own unique way of integrating into Olympic culture.

For Coca-Cola, the look is a no-brainer in terms of brand diplomacy. Canada and Coke have always shared the same colors, and a sort of cheerful, outdoorsy, grab-life-by-the-hips attitude:

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Other huge Olympic ad barons take a different approach, advertising on Canadian streets, but showing that what they really support, is every person on the planet Earth.

Visa's cool-blue-tinted, "Go World" ads are a perfect example of a carefully planned campaign that says: Hey, you use Visa, I use Visa, we're all part of the same global system here, and isn't that something to celebrate?

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Omega watches, another major Olympic sponsor, is taking a similar tack to Visa, with an aggressive campaign focused around the concept of "Great Moments in Time." Posters and ads throughout Vancouver feature images from past Olympics held all over the world. Again, the message: We're proud to be in Vancouver, but this brand is a global citizen.

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Overwhelmingly, Olympic games print advertising is colorful, positive, celebratory, and above all, oriented towards maintaining growing brand strength, for nations, and for businesses. This inherent tension is perhaps best summed up by a prolific American advertiser, who enlisted guerilla advertising wunderkind Shepard Fairey to get across his no-bones message:

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Now that's what I call clean, straightforward print advertising.

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