• 06.14.12

Olympic Ad Passes The Torch With User-Generated Content

With its “Show Your Best” contest, the International Olympic Committee collected videos of ordinary people performing extraordinary feats. Now, some of those videos have found their way into an innovative ad set to air during the Olympics broadcast.

Olympic Ad Passes The Torch With User-Generated Content
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Competing in the Olympic Games has a way of inspiring athletes to perform at the peak of their powers. Simply watching from home, though, tends to inspire people of mere mortal ability to be at their physical best too. It’s a phenomenon the International Olympic Committee is counting on, and has been actively courting in the lead-up to Summer 2012. As the starting line nears, we’re about to see the results.


Earlier this year the IOC rolled out its campaign internationally. This initiative encouraged people from around the world to film their personal best efforts at any physical activity within reason, and upload it onto the campaign website for a chance to win a trip to the Olympics. Now, Seattle-based agency Cole & Weber United has integrated some of those home videos into a new ad, and they’ve done so with visually stunning new technology.

“Leading up to the 2012 Olympic Games, we wanted kids to get excited about the Games. We wanted a venue where they could show and celebrate their personal best with the world,” says Scott Fero, an Associate Creative Director with Cole & Weber United. “After gathering videos from around the world, we asked Olympic athletes to pick the videos that inspired them the most. The winning videos where used to create a TV spot that will run in hundreds of countries and at the opening ceremonies.”

The ad begins like many we’ve seen before: with Olympic athletes in motion. Suddenly, one of the athletes starts to look a little blurry and pixilated. As we zoom in on this fellow, the picture starts coming into focus to reveal that our athlete is entirely comprised of a collage of footage submitted from the Show Your Best contest. Here, the idea that the Olympic spirit is in all of us is made manifest. And it looks pretty cool as well.

“This spot uses proprietary technology created by Rumpus Room that aggregates user generated content from the site and pulls it into a broadcast unit in a mosaic style,” says Fero. “Using a pre-determined mosaic AFX matte, we then graded each individual video clip to match that of the source video.”

The finished product has allowed winning entrants like Ryan Celestain, a US amateur triathlete, and Alfredo Montenegro, a Guatemalan basketball prodigy to appear in an ad that will be seen by millions around the world. It may not be a gold medal, but in getting awarded for excellence, these two embodying what the Olympics are all about.

About the author

Joe Berkowitz is a writer and staff editor at Fast Company. His next book, Away with Words, is available June 13th from Harper Perennial.