Ads nauseam: A word from our Olympic sponsors . . .


July 03, 1992|By RAY FRAGER

Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, the Motown song said. There's something in the air, Thunderclap Newman warned. Here, there and everywhere, the Beatles sang.

Those lyrics could have been telling us about Olympics-related advertising. Of course, they also could have been telling us about global warming. Or McDonald's franchises. Or stories about Princess Diana. Which reminds me: Don't Prince Charles and Ross Perot have the same kind of ears?

But I digress.

The Games afford companies the opportunity to plaster the Olympic rings on any product. You decide how appropriate the tie-in is. Check out these highlights of Olympics-related commercials I made up yesterday while flipping through channels and realizing I hadn't done a lick of work to prepare this week's column:

* Attractive blond spokeswoman: "Hi, I'm the star of a TV show that undermines family values. That's why you should use the long-distance service I'm pitching. But it's not the only reason.

"When our American athletes are in Barcelona and want to call back home [scene of a sweaty runner yelling into the phone: 'Mom, I won the gold'], they should feel glad that one long-distance company was with them every step of the way, charging them for every minute." [The same athlete returns home, sees his long-distance bill. He then goes to a pawn shop and gets cash for the gold medal.]

* [Basketball scene: Michael Jordan enters a game, handing a 5-iron to an official at the scorers' table and peeling off checkerboard pants and a Banlon shirt. Larry Bird, resting his sore back by sitting in a rocking chair, hits a three-pointer while foreign opponents are occupied getting Magic Johnson's autograph.]

Instantly recognizable NBC sports personality: "If you want to see every minute of every U.S. basketball game, there's only one place -- Olympics Triplecast."

* Slightly menacing announcer: "Heinz von Schlump is the goalie for Germany's team handball squad. [Scenes of von Schlump taking shots to the stomach, nose, ear and crotch.] If you think he's tough, you should try getting tickets in Barcelona without your Buy Now, Pay Interest For Two Years card. [A tourist wearing plaid Bermuda shorts and knee-high black socks tries to use the wrong card at ticket window. A matador appears, flashes his sword and forces the tourist to eat over-spiced paella.] The Buy Now, Pay Interest For Two Years card -- it's everywhere you want to be, not that you can afford it."

* [It's Dan and Dave, our favorite decathletes. Dave is on the track, hard at work training for Barcelona. Dan is standing outside, looking in through a chain-link fence.]

Dan: "You know, if I didn't miss on the pole vault, I would've whipped your butt. [Dave runs around the track, barely glancing at Dan.] And I would've won in Barcelona, too. [Dave works on his long jump.] I bet I can beat you one-on-one in basketball. [Dave takes some shot-put heaves.] Yeah, pingpong, too. [Dave stretches out on the track, cooling down from his workout.] And don't even think of challenging me in miniature golf." [Dave throws a sneaker at Dan.]

Graphic on screen: To be settled at Sidney's Putt-Putt in Scotch Plains, N.J.

* [Equestrian scene: Horse and rider are working in sync, gracefully clearing jump after jump. But the horse suddenly stops short of a set of rails. The rider kicks. The horse refuses to move. The rider kicks again. The horse still doesn't move. The rider dismounts, walks away, but soon returns, carrying something. The rider shows the horse a can of dog food and a jar of glue. The horse starts clearing jumps again.]

Somewhat less recognizable NBC sports personality: "If you want to see every minute of every equestrian competition, there's only one place -- Olympics Triplecast."

* [Close-up of a man's face. He is straining, sweating, obviously exerting himself in some physical activity.]

Song by somebody doing a Michael Bolton imitation: "There's no hunger inside you, but you still wanna eat. There's no hunger inside you, but you'll scarf something sweet."

Casey Kasem sound-alike announcer: "Cholesterol Glob candy is the official unhealthy snack food of the U.S. Olympic team. No competitor would dare eat this product, but we get to put those five rings on the package, possibly fooling the more dull consumer into believing there's some connection between a 700-calorie chocolate bar and athletic prowess."

Bolton wanna-be: "You have the candy inside you, and now your pants won't zip. You have the candy inside you, and you're big as a ship."

[Close-up of the workout man pulls back. He's surrounded by candy wrappers and trying to get up off the couch.]

* [Volleyball scene: A woman leaps high over the net, slamming the ball in a vicious spike. She does it again and again and again, with increasing ferocity, seemingly enraged by the ball. The balls rolls to a stop. On it is a picture of Geraldo Rivera.]

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