Gaye At The Olympics

Updated: August 15, 2008


We all know the Olympics

are about MARKETING

images and o yes Sports

But most of all MARKETING using the Sporting events to frame the very many expensive commercials on NBC in the USA and other media around the world. The Olympics most of all the Summer Olympics are far and away the most lucrative Sports MARKETING platform of all surpassing World Cup, SuperBowl, etc. if for only because the Olympics go on and on and threaten to never end with nail biting contests in such “sports” as Water Polo.

Enter Marvin Gaye and

his first and very likely

ONLY Black Box

The Olympic commercial featuring Mr. Gaye while not the most often broadcast is likely to be the TV commercial that defines this Olympics in the way the Apple Macintosh commercial did a SuperBowl long ago. In this case because the Gaye spot evokes the essence of Olympic advertising. For those of you who have not seen it and if you did you can link below.

The entire commercial is brilliant in its simplicity and more that it uses footage from all the way back in 1983 as its central image. The commercial is for Nike surprise surprise and is the typical Nike understated style we only see Nike come on screen momentarily at the very end and there is absolutely no mention of Nike products. It is a quintessential image ad. The kind you use when you own your market and commercials are to remind the world.

This commercial is Black Box material more than because of Marvin Gaye’s central role in even more so it in that it features a group of well known AFRICAN American athletes the 2008 USA Olympic men’s Basketball team doing nothing more than suiting up and practicing most notably surprise surprise LeBron and Kobe.

OK we have set the stage for you

put you in a comfortable position

now it’s time to make our point

The commercial is nothing more or less than it is Marvin Gaye singing his memorable call it legendary – if not prior to now it is – singing of the USA National Anthem largely a cappella by his lonesome in the middle of the Hardwood before the start of the 1983 NBA All Star Game. The spot switches between his singing and images of the current USA players.

IT HAS ALREADY SUCCEEDED for Nike. We are writing about it in the Box and others are. And after Nike reads this Box we are likely to see it far more during the rest of the Olympics than you would have. What POWER the Box has !

That is not the Point. It is how a Black singer and Black athletes can be utilized so effectively to deliver a powerful marketing message to a largely WHITE audience and in a double whammy do it placing these African Americans in a HIGHLY patriotic setting WITHOUT worrying about all the IRONY this ad actually reflects.

First of all let’s go back to 1983. 25 years ago when the Marvin Gaye footage was filmed. From an African American perspective we live in virtually the same world of limited options for Black Americans we did 25 years ago. Surprise surprise. Yes yes an African American is running fir President. Let’s see how much that or specifically Obama changes things.

To be more specific the African American experience in Sports in virtually unchanged. To be more specific African American today only compete in the very limited number of Olympic Sports African Americans did 25 years ago with rare exceptions. The opportunities that existed then exist today. The many more that did not in 1983 don’t today. That is Point #1.

Next this Nike commercial reflects very well the schizophrenic nature of our American psyche. This Nike ad GLORIFIES African Americans as the epitome of America today and going even deeper as the PATRIOTIC core of America. An AFRICAN American singing the National Anthem as AFRICAN Americans proudly prepare to represent USA.

Point #2 if you had arrived from another universe because somehow you got tickets to the Olympics and got past the Chinese border guards – watching this commercial your ONLY logical conclusion would be that AFRICAN Americans rule America or at least are more revered and sought after than any other Americans and that ALL Americans are eternally grateful to AFRICAN Americans as the Patriotic SYMBOLS of America.

Do we really need to make

any more Points this is the

OLYMPICS and God Bless

AFRICAN Americans if

only in Nike TV ads so

“enjoy” the commercial