I’ve enjoyed watching many of the Olympic commercials for their entertainment value; they rival those shown during the Superbowl—the only other occasion where Americans are willing to watch a show in real time, ads and all. (I’ve even teared up a few times watching the “thank you, Mom” commercials aired by sponsor Procter & Gamble.)
But some of these ads are just flat-out hypocritical with the health messages they’re sending.
1. Coca-Cola helps skier Ted Ligety:
The Centers for Science in the Public Interest, a non-profit nutrition advocacy group, called out Coca-Cola’s ad suggesting that alpine ski racer Ted Ligety’s success was based on drinking a Coke before every race. “Superstition or super power?” reads a message in the Coke bubbles, as if it’s subliminally trying to tell us that drinking a sugary beverage will improve our own athletic performance. Just to be clear: it won’t.
2. Dos Equis beer drinkers worshipped by Olympic athletes.
Maybe the hot female skiers have beer envy from not being allowed to drink during their Olympic training. How else to explain their utter worship of a gray-haired portly man in a smoking jacket only Hugh Hefner would wear?
3. McDonald’s compares Chicken McNuggets to Olympic gold medal.
“The greatest victories are celebrated with a bite,” is the theme of the commercial showing athletes biting into their gold medals while McDonald’s consumers bite into golden McNuggets. McDonald’s should get some credit here for making McNuggets seem like a special occasion treat rather than a post-training snack. But do we really think of McDonald’s as celebratory fare? I’d rather toast with a nice champagne—and maybe some Godiva truffles.
4. Wella Professionals equate Olympic glory with glorious hair.
I feel a bit sorry for beauty product manufacturers who have to tie their products into an Olympic endorsement—besides figure skaters, athletes could care less about their hair or makeup when competing. But this commercial goes beyond the ridiculous. It focuses on supermodels getting their hair done and equates a great hair day with athletic performances ranking the best in the world. The most hypocritical part? A nonsensical quote from Wella’s design manager Margaret MacDonald: “At Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games athletes have moments of glory. Wella Professionals gives clients the opportunity to have glorious hair every day throughout winter.” Huh?
5. Wii tries to make its games seem like Olympic-style workouts.
While it’s better to move around a little playing a Wii bobsled or figure skating game than to lounge on the sofa watching TV, the family in this commercial hardly looks like they’re breaking a sweat or even breathing hard. And, yet, they claim to be “Olympic hopefuls” from their training. Yeah, right.