The 7 Best Commercials of the Rio Olympics

The Olympics are here! And while many viewers have been complaining about the seemingly excessive numbers of commercials during this year’s games (and NBC has come up with a pretty interesting explanation as to why they are actually not airing as many commercials as people think), we at St. Gregory Group are devotees of the form. We’ve carried on a spirited debate about the funniest, most inspiring, effective, and touching commercials during this year’s Olympics, and these are the contenders that medaled. The judges’ decisions are final.

The Gold:

P&G’s “Thank You Mom: Strong”


P&G has cornered the market on tear-jerking Olympics commercials. Their
Thank You Mom” campaign, first introduced in 2010, just never gets old. Athletes + their long-suffering, under-recognized moms = a perfectly winning equation. We’ve all either taken our moms for granted (or we’ve been that mom), so everyone identifies with this commercial. What’s even better, P&G can refresh the spot every two years with new athletes and new moms and keep going forever, as far as we’re concerned. Genius.

The Silver: A Tie

Passionate opinions in the St. Gregory Group office made it necessary to declare a tie for silver. This is highly irregular, but as it happens both silver-winning commercials came from Under Armour; we simply disagreed about which one was the most powerful.

Under Armour’s “Rule Yourself: USA Women’s Gymnastics”


The combination of synchronized grace and brute strength with the driving beat by M.I.A. all make us want to don some athletic gear and kick some a$$.

Under Armour’s “Rule Yourself: Michael Phelps”


This one has become one of the most shared Olympics commercials ever. According to Adweek, that’s because it hits the sweet spot for Millennial males, authentically conveying the power and sacrifice of an Olympic athlete in an inspiring way (although some of us were forced to deduct points for that cupping scene. Yeeeooooowwwwww!)

The Bronze:

Visa’s “The Carpool to Rio”


Visa’s tribute to the entire American team seems to be one of the few purely lighthearted Olympics commercials standing out this year. After watching a lot of emotionally grinding commercials about effort and sacrifice—including this effective spot by Gillette—it was frankly a bit of a palate cleanser to watch this one.  We’re awarding “The Carpool to Rio” the bronze for its genuinely funny writing and the sheer number of Olympic athletes it manages to include. If you like this commercial, you’ll probably enjoy Visa’s “On Your Mark, Get Set, First” spot featuring adorable heptathlon couple Ashton Eaton and Brianne Thiesen-Eaton, too.

And one to grow on:

Samsung’s “The Anthem”

If we weren’t so humor starved after viewing this year’s crop of ads, Samsung’s “The Anthem” spot would easily have vaulted into third place. It nails the Olympics’ inspirational message with a montage of “regular people” from around the world performing the national anthems of other countries. (And unlike the Michael Phelps spot for Under Armour, Samsung manages to avoid any gruesome cupping scenes whatsoever.)