Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Why we should watch the Olympics

The Summer Games of the Twenty-Ninth Olympiad are upon us and we celebrate the glorious harmony of the success and achievement of the People’s Republic of China!

Jokes aside, I am quite happy that the Games went to Beijing because it intensifies the scrutiny and critical analysis of China in broader social discourse. Think about the fact that issues such as the genocide in Darfur, human rights abuses in Tibet, rampant pollution throughout the Chinese countryside, and globalization in general have all received a lot more attention because the Games are in China than they would have otherwise garnered had the Games been somewhere else.

It’s a learning experience for everyone as viewing audiences from around the world are welcomed into a rapidly industrialized nation by enthusiastic hosts and Chinese citizens can truly feel as if they are now participating fully on a global stage. So forget the world-class sports that you see during these three weeks, isn’t it intriguing enough to leverage the media attention on China during the Olympics to learn more about this complex country and shake your Sinophobic preconceptions?

From a marketing perspective, the Games is a stunning showcase of massive, multi-media ad campaigns. In particular, I’m impressed by Bell Canada’s rebrand and the ubiquity of its new ads throughout downtown Toronto and during commercial buffers on CBC’s nightly broadcasts. I think that the launch developed appropriate buzz and momentum prior to the commercials’ release (the blue and white ‘ER’ ads were really curiosity-piquing) that it will have a strong association effect throughout the Olympics duration for the new Bell brand. I’m envious for the tourists in Beijing who get to live the street marketing, event sponsorship, and widespread promotion. So again, forget the captivating athletes who perform super-human feats and are cheered on by their nation’s entire population, the Beijing Olympics provides a great opportunity to see modern mass marketing.

Now, as much as I love American Idol, So You Think You Can Dance, Celebrity Rehab, So You Think Your Kid’s a Star featuring Danny Bonaduce, Big Brother, The Mole, America’s Next Top Model, the Amazing Race, and High School Musical the TV Show, nothing can approach the Olympics as TV’s ultimate reality show. In comparison to CBC (which seems to have amateurishly produced a highly Canada-centric clip show that rebuffs coverage of competitors from all other nations), the NBC broadcasts profile the world’s best athletes, including those from the United States. NBC is doing a flawless job at producing competition segments and crafting hero myths for individual athletes, making the whole shebang quite comprehensive, fast, and entertaining to watch. So again, forget the heart-wrenching backstories of some athletes, the final reason to watch the Olympics is to marvel at the sheer production value of the online and offline media coverage.

So I’m quite saddened by those among us remiss enough to voluntarily opt-out of watching the Olympics. Have we all become dead inside to the joys in life of seeing physical triumph and achievement? Are we immune to the uplifting stories of athletes who have basically devoted their lives to performing a simple motion and movement and through dedication and perseverance have finally made it to a world Pantheon of sport?

Perhaps Canada would be a stronger medal contender if more Canadians gave a damn about the Olympics (and about winning, in general).


Cindy said...

The Olympics has been the hot topic every lunch break at work and a whole bunch of us summer students would discuss about how sad it is that Canada stil has zero medal count. A rich and strong country like Canada, for some reason, just can't seem to produce athletes that push themselves to their "personal best". We're always almost there, but never really make it. We think, (the students) that it's part of the Canadian mentality where trying hard is enough. Even the CBC commentators always find excuses to make people feel better. On NBC, the commentators there give no room for failure. They point out all the mistakes and never sugar-coats anything. Perhaps Canadians really need that extra push to finally get out of 4th place and step onto the podium.

Max Billings said...

4th place?? we'd only be so lucky!