For a hot minute during the Rio Olympics, the #PhelpsFace meme, born from Michael Phelps' scowling reaction to a rival swimmer's pre-race shadowboxing routine, was all the rage. The meme is resurfacing in new spots from Intel that star the Olympic champ and Intel spokesperson Jim Parsons of The Big Bang Theory.
The ads from mcgarrybowen and Intel's Agency Inside highlight the speed of Intel's technology, with Phelps making that famous face while watching race footage on a slow computer.
The ad was inspired by real-life Olympics footage, said Steve Fund, CMO of Intel. "We saw an image of Michael watching himself swimming during the Olympics on this very dated computer," he said. "We immediately came up with the idea of, it's the world's fastest swimmer on the world's slowest computer. #PhelpsFace was one of these magical moments that really stuck out in all the broadcasts of the Olympics. We were thinking, 'How can we catch lighting in a bottle about that moment and do it in a fun way?'"
In the ads, which debut next week, Parsons makes fun of Phelps for watching footage on the slow PC, saying, "You have a new world record for the slowest computer," and pointing out that Intel's technology is faster.
Now-retired Phelps, who also appeared in powerful ads for Under Armour leading up to the games, was an ideal spokesperson for Intel on the heels of his Rio success as the most medal-winning Olympian of all time. "It's capitalizing on the moment, and his popularity and visibility, and it keeps our brand fresh and relevant," Fund added.
Intel was named one of Adweek's 2016 Brand Genius winners in part for its "Experience Amazing" rebranding effort this year, which showcased the role of Intel technology in DreamWorks animation and NASA's Space Shuttle. The new spots are an extension of that, Fund said. "It's all about trying to connect our technology with the experience it delivers."