Canadian Olympic Committee focuses on athletes’ sacrifices in Beijing Games campaign

Who: The Canadian Olympic Committee, with Camp Jefferson for creative (K72 for French creative), The Vanity for VFX, Oso Audio for music, Nimiopere for editorial, Alter Ego for colour, OMD for media.

What: A campaign for the Olympic Winter Games, using the “Glory From Anywhere” tagline the COC introduced in the lead-up to last year’s Tokyo Games. It ladders up to the organization’s “Be Olympic” brand platform.

When & Where: The campaign debuted on Monday, running on TV, print, social and digital/online video. There is also a digital hub profiling the eight athletes featured in the campaign.

Why: While the first iteration of the campaign focused on the values required to become an Olympian, the latest campaign highlights the sacrifices these athletes must make to overcome obstacles and achieve the dream of competing for their country.

How: The 60-second anchor spot (there are also 30- and 15-second cutdowns) is built around one of the staples of sports advertising (and Rocky movies): The training montage.

However, this one is given a unique twist thanks to the English and French voiceovers provided by Naya Ali, an Ethiopia-born and Montreal-based rapper, and Jenny Salgado, a Quebec-born hip-hop artist of Haitian descent.

The spots each open on Ali and Salgado on a stage in what appears to be a warehouse space, lit by screens displaying the COC logo. “We dream of this. Live our whole life for this. Give everything we’ve got for this,” says Ali in the English version, as the spot transitions to the training routines of eight Canadian Olympians including snowboarder Max Parrot, figure skaters Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier and Cynthia Appiah, who hopes to compete in monobob—a new sport that’s being introduced at this year’s Games.

The spot highlights the challenges athletes face to compete for their country, fighting through pain and loss, overcoming setback, and making comebacks, concluding with the words “We come from anywhere, and we can overcome anything,” followed by the “Glory from anywhere” tagline and the COC logo.

There is less diversity in the Winter Games than their Summer counterpart, and Appiah—a former track and field star who took up bobsled in 2011—said she wants to use her role as a prominent figure in the campaign to demonstrate that there is a place for BIPOC athletes in sports like hers. “[I]t’s important that people can see themselves in their heroes,” she said. “I hope my teammates and I can be the same source of inspiration for people watching the Games, no matter their background, race or religion.”

And we quote: “We believe that athletes can transform Canada by demonstrating how to pursue a goal with bravery, integrity and determination,” said Jacquie Ryan, the COC’s chief brand and commercial officer. “Glory is in the gym, on the slopes, on the ice, and in the air. It’s in the struggles they face, not just in the medals they win, and I think that idea can have a lot of power right now as we’re all digging a little deeper to navigate the second winter of the pandemic.”


Chris Powell