New BBC Winter Olympics film is epic but unemotional

The BBC’s new trailer for its Winter Olympics coverage is full of drama and bombast. But it’s oddly unmoving too.

The BBC’s new trailer for its Winter Olympics coverage is full of drama and bombast. But it’s oddly unmoving too.

The film is the work of ad agency RKCR/Y&R and is in keeping with the previous films they have made for the Olympics on the BBC, which always present the Games in epic terms. Whereas in the past, these films have featured stunning animation (Pete Candeland’s film for the 2012 London Olympics and Marc Craste’s work for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics are shown below), this latest piece opts for a kind of fantasy vision, featuring footage of snowy mountains accompanied by a booming voiceover by Charles Dance. The mood is dark, with the athletes pitched against the very forces of nature itself.

It’s all very dramatic, and undoubtedly will get viewers to look up from their mobile phones when the film plays out on TV, but it lacks any of the emotional connection that we’ve seen in alternative Olympics advertising of late. Part of the success of Meet The Superhumans, Channel 4’s Paralympics spot from the 2012 Games which picked up multiple awards, lay in its ability to present the games as dramatic and exciting but also with a personal edge – the athletes were placed centre stage, and the film alluded to some of their back stories. P&G’s Thank You Mom Olympics campaign similarly focuses on the hardships that athletes endure in order to reach the Games. It may have a saccarine overtone that is unappealing to some, but the campaign is rooted in the human aspect of the Olympics.

The Beeb’s work by comparison seems cold and unrealistic, and almost feels like an advertisement for a new drama series rather than a sporting event. While this was presumably the intention, a little more humanity at the heart of it wouldn’t have gone astray. Plus, this ad only seems to focus on the high-octane events such as skiing or ice hockey. What place, for example, does curling have in this monumental battle against nature?

Agency: RKCR/Y&R
ECD: Mark Roalfe
Creatives: Barnaby Blackburn, Gustavo Kopit
Production companies: Stink/Red Bee Media
Director: Tomek Baginski

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