Heard and Not Seen: Olympic Ads Feature Celebrity Narration

Nike’s campaign narrator: Tom Hardy

With the Olympics coming to a close, we now have a chance to reflect back on the spectacle of the games. World records set; artful displays of speed and agility; obligatory shots of anxious parents having heart attacks in the stands. It was quite a site to behold. But as for an ad-enthusiast, one of the best parts had to be the commercials that came in between all that athleticism.

What I found most interesting about this new crop of Olympic ad campaigns was how many big (I mean HUGE) stars were featured in these ads. And the funny thing was, most weren’t in the ads visually. Let’s face it: the athletes themselves were the biggest celebrities of the Olympics, and many of them starred in these timely campaigns. But many A-List stars were featured as narrators for the world’s biggest brands.

Here are some of the standouts:

Julia Roberts for Nationwide Insurance

Jay-Z for Budwiser

Matt Damon for United Airlines

Paul Giamatti for Liberty Mutual

Tom Hardy for Nike

Matt Damon (again) for TD Ameritrade

Morgan Freeman for Visa

Salome Jens for Kellog’s

It’s an interesting strategy- using voices just familiar enough to you without being too obvious about the star’s participation. It lends clout and confidence without too much flash, perfect for an atmosphere like the Olympics.

And before I forget, honorable mention goes to the John Cleese commercial for Direct TV for sheer hilarity and over-the-top British bravado.