What do you call it when Olympian Rebecca Soni swims the breastroke in reverse? The backstroke, you say? Wrong. You call it a Kellogg's commercial.
During Friday’s opening ceremonies for the 2012 London Games, the cereal giant debuted the centerpiece spot from its sponsorship campaign, created by Leo Burnett Chicago, around Team USA hopefuls. The brand’s first Olympic creative to air since 1991, the ad opens with Soni, a 2008 gold medalist and breaststroke world record holder, on the starting block, lined up against her competitors. The gun snaps, they dive off into a slow-motion race, and the voiceover philosophizes about the human obsession with winning. “Why does the finish get all the glory?” it asks. As Soni touches the far end of the pool, the footage snaps into rewind, following her path in reverse, and eventually cutting to a shot of a little girl—symbolizing a young Soni. Meanwhile, the narrator switches gears to muse on beginnings. "There's no finish without the most important part of the day," says the voiceover. "The start," says the girl. "Kellogg's," pronounces the narrator. "See you at breakfast," says the girl.
Subtext: If you want to be a winner, start your day with Kellogg's. As grandiose as the execution is, it's on point for Kellogg’s and the event. The visuals are gorgeous; Soni's performance, in particular, is riveting. Yes, the copy feels a bit forced at moments—no goodbye without hello?—but gets its point across. The childhood ending makes a clear grab at the heartstrings of moms (and dads) headed for the shopping aisle. And if there’s a time for ads to slather on schmaltz, it’s probably during the Olympics, when the heightened drama of the games primes viewers to soak up the melodrama of advertising.
Campaign: 2012 Olympics “From Great Starts Come Great Things”
Agency: Leo Burnett
Chief Creative Officer: Susan Credle
Global Creative Director: Graham Woodall
Creative Director: Eduardo Tua (Lapiz)
Senior Art Director: Bruno Pieroni (Lapiz)
Executive Producer: Mary Cheney
Production Company: Rattling Stick
Director: Ivan Bird
VFX/SPX: The Moving Picture Company
Editorial: Beast Editorial
Editor: Paul Norling
Music Company: Slogan Music
Director of Photography: Ivan Bird/Don King (underwater DP)
Sound Design/Mix: John Binder, Another Country