Fast Company recently invited us to "find out which brands have already ascended the podium in the freestyle advertising events in London' and included ads from the likes of Nike, Paddy Power and Lego in their top twelve.
Whilst many of these ads are very powerful, the winner for me has been one from Proctor and Gamble that didn't even make it onto Fast Company's very crowded podium. I suspect the magazine's Olympic judges have been swayed more by the glamour and attitude of some of these ads rather than by the powerful insight that drives the narrative of Proctor and Gamble's Olympic Kids 2012.
The idea behind the ad is very simple but effective. It features a number of children participating in an Olympic Games, whilst their mothers look on. At the end, it emerges that all along we've been watching grown athletes in action through the eyes of their mothers. The brilliant punchline, "To us they're Olympians. But to their moms, they'll always be kids' goes to the very heart of the relationship between a mother and her children and reminds us that no matter how grown up we are, we are still our mother's children.
(Having just turned forty-seven, I see this for myself when my mother bristles at how broadcaster George Hook "is always interrupting you" during our Kickstart Your Business feature on Newstalk every Saturday morning. That may be George's style with guests and co-presenters, and part of his great appeal to listeners like me who enjoy his often-combative style, but my mother continues to look out for her little boy!).
The Olympian kids is one of a series of ads that cleverly links Proctor and Gamble and its products to the Games; another salutes the mothers who work tirelessly behind the scenes to support their children in their efforts to reach the top of their particular game. Perhaps the only mis-step in the ad is the US-reference to 'moms' rather than 'mums', which is likely to jar just a little in this part of the world. But I'm nit-picking.
It seems to me that by telling a very simple story very well and touching the hearts of mothers in this way, Proctor and Gamble are much more likely to see a return in terms of loyalty and sales, than those other ads which are more about the hard-nosed, competitive side of the games in my view.
What do you think? Is this little boy too dewy-eyed at the shameless appeal of a multinational giant to the heart-strings, or is an ad that speaks to a mother in such a powerful way likely to reap the benefits on the supermarket shelves?