Ad Track: Marketers jump on the Olympic bandwagon

Reporting from our tiny cubicles in New York City rather than from the glorious Olympic Village in Beijing, the Ad Team presents its all-Olympics edition. And we're not going to let our lack of access to star athletes and delicious Asian delicacies thwart our enthusiasm. So, let the Games begin.

Skinny dipping.

Olympic swimmers' streamlined high-tech body suits show less actual flesh than decades ago. But 2004 gold medalist Amanda Beard has taken skin-baring to an extreme: Last week in Beijing, she unveiled a People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) ad that shows her posing nude. The copy: "Be comfortable in your own skin. Don't wear fur." The ad, scheduled to run in magazines this fall, features the strategically positioned swimmer in front of an American flag.

Child's play.

The next three weeks will be filled with a frenzy of athletic action: swimming, basketball, volleyball, water polo and rock, paper, scissors.

Yes, rock, paper, scissors.

The childhood game isn't an official Olympic sport, but that hasn't stopped Anheuser-Busch from sponsoring a rock, paper, scissors "international championship" match in Beijing on Aug. 23. Representing the USA is 23-year-old Sean Sears of Chicopee, Mass., who earned bragging rights — and a $50,000 prize — when he won the 2008 Bud Light/USA Rock Paper Scissors League Championship in June. He'll go hand-to-hand, er, head-to head, with four other finalists from Canada, Guam, Hong Kong and Ireland. There's no prize money this time — just gold, silver and bronze medals. A-B did cover each player's travel costs to Beijing.

Boogie down, Beijing style.

To play up its U.S. Olympic team sponsorship, AT&T asked artists such as 3 Doors Down, Taylor Swift, Sheryl Crow and Nelly to record new tunes or rerecord existing songs to "inspire" athletes and fans. (3 Doors Down's song, for instance, doesn't directly tie in with the Olympics but has lyrics such as: "There's a champion in me.") The tunes, which range from 99 cents for an online download to $2.49 for a ring tone, can be bought at att.net/TeamUSA or through AT&T's Media Mall service on its wireless phones. Proceeds from sales during the Olympics support Team USA.

U.S. competition.

General Motors is ending its 10-year Olympic sponsorship with a bang. In its final go-around as an Olympic sponsor, it will take on Asian carmakers with ads that tout its hybrid cars, as well as overall fuel efficiency of its cars.

"Asian brands get the credit for efficient vehicles," says Kim Kosak, GM's director of advertising and sales promotion. "We have to change the perceptions."

A more special Olympics.

We think Coca-Cola's Opening Ceremonies ad should get a gold medal for its heart-warming footage of 30 athletes — four of them Special Olympics athletes — receiving medals. The "Ceremony" commercial will be the most visible Coke ad throughout the Games. It will run 12 times in prime time and 60 more times throughout the broadcasts. It's the first time that Coke features Special Olympics athletes in its global Coke advertising.

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