While the greatest athletes in the world swarm Brazil like mosquitos for this summer’s games, one would think dear, beleaguered Rio would be just a sweet samba away from salvation. But despite hosting the most elaborate global pageant ever, the “Marvelous City” and its cariocas remain mired in controversy, still searching their polluted skies for real heroes who can stand tall and tan and young and lovely like their Girl from Ipanema once did. Fortunately, I think I have the answer to their dreams. There is one thing that will rise up like Cristo Redentor with his albatrossian soapstone arms outstretched over the Corcovado in exultation of all that is good and divine. One endeavor of the fittest will remind us of the true power of the human spirit, the grit and determination to persevere in the face of all odds. One showcase of sheer mastery will restore peace and bring balance to a planet that has all but come undone.
Yes, we can always count on the ads, in spite of every hurdle in their path, to be clean and virtuous and wholesome…a restorative gulp of delicious fruit-flavored electrolytes that quenches our souls and gets us to find money we don’t have to buy things we don’t need. And so in homage to the gods of advertising–Ogilvy, Bogusky, Mary Kay, Ronald McDonald, and their ilk–I offer this modest proposal inspired by the ancient plains of Olympia:
Ad agencies and marketing firms shall come together in one epic, quadrennial, orgiastic spectacle of our own sport. The 30-second DVR blur; the 140-character race to the bottom; the fumbled hashtag baton pass; the tiring and perspiring press release; the damaged collateral; all the pulsing, pixelated, programmatic thrill of victory and agony of defeat. Together, we’ll show the world that we are far more than mere Mad Men. It may take a village, but we will make advertising great again.
The events? None other than the most demanding ever devised. The competitors? None other than the greatest ever assembled.
Here are our “Adletes”:
The Owners: Shot Put
I got 99 problems but a pitch ain’t one
We thought we were smarter than the dinosaurs who gave us jobs right after we graduated from Outrageously Expensive School of Art and Design. So we strapped on our singlets and struck out on our own. We saddled our entire livelihoods with this ball and chain, this unwieldy round anvil of a company that weighs on our shoulders like the stress of a thousand bright-eyed, bearded, plaid-clad millennials counting on us to lift them from their career doldrums, ply them with IPAs while they doodle, let them telecommute from their sister’s friend’s houseboat on the Ganges, and deliver a double-digit employer match on their 401(k) plans. We’re damn good pitchmen, so we’d heave this whole business into orbit if we could. But we love the art of the spin. So we raise that shot put to our ear and…shhh, do you hear that?…that’s the sound of a beach house calling…just a few more years.
Client Services: Pentathlon
License to Bill
Bet you don’t know three out of the five Pentathlon events. Just like you don’t know what the actual budget is, when to execute the perfect “Faded Swivel” PowerPoint animation, or how to enter a hot-buttered rib-eye with demi-glace from Ruth’s Chris on an expense report. Laser shooting, horse jumping, swimming, and fencing. If that can’t all be billed at $175 an hour, what can? So if you call us sometime and we don’t answer, it’s just because we’re out running and gunning. Literally. Like our boys Fresh Prince and DJ Jazzy Jeff always meant to say, “Clients just don’t understand.”
Creative: Rhythmic Gymnastics
Make the logo bigger? Meow. We’ll just put a sequin and a starburst on it and watch the leotards drag in Cannes Lions all day long. When you preen and prance around like we do, you deserve to take home all the hardware, AMIRIGHT!? Rhythm is a dancer, so our work has a panel of distinctive judges, no scoreboards here. Adore our bold portfolio of sparkly plumage, clubs, hoops, and balls. They call it “apparatus manipulation”; we call it poetry in motion. Adore our full-page, full-color, full-bleed, fully responsive creativity…artistry…nay, beauty. It ribbons into your consciousness and lodges there. Like ringworm. Wait, what? Someone is actually supposed to “buy” what we’re “selling” here? Don’t they know this is art? OMFG how gauche. Take us back to that dream where we pirouette in Helvetica.
Strategy: Race Walking
Get Ur Geek On
Ah, the lost art of finding an even slower way to the finish line. Because if we can overthink this idea and encumber it with our Byzantine analysis of Big Data (pecking along with a gait that looks like a robotic nerdbird) rather than just getting it done on the run, sign us up. Briefs? We pretty much compete in them. That’s because we’re the people’s sport: the one that gives anyone who can put one foot in front of the other a fighting chance. Consumers, unite–we feel you! Bob Costas once mocked that attempting to be the fastest walker “is like having a contest to see who can whisper loudest.” Well, give us a blended quant and qual study with a 7-point Likert scale and some Quixotic Reliability and you’ll hear us roar. Fear the walking egghead!
Media, Social Media, and PR: Synchronized Swimming
Nuthin’ But Agency Thang
Put on your rubber noseclips and take a blog hit, fans, we’re about to get insane in the campaign. This is the team that gets all channels swimming like a pod of trained dolphins with Nielsen Portable People Meters on their dorsal fins. Print, TV, radio, video, search, news editors, bloggers, another idiotic social channel every day–you think it’s easy to do all this and still look like a waterlogged Radio City Rockette? Talk about making impressions. The choreography behind making fans cheer is 12’ feet deep and as complex as a duet side fishtail with eggbeater kick, especially when you’re judged by GRPs, engagement, sentiment, and retweets. You think you can do this soggy ballet with a goofy smile perpetually frozen on your face? You’re welcome to take a dive with our sodden reporters and over-chlorinated vendors anytime.
Developers: Beach Volleyball
My Python don’t want none unless you got buns, hun
Bump, set, and Boom Beach (Android, version 26.146, of course)! Just like that, it’s sideout and Ruby’s on the rails. Where them bugs at? We couldn’t care less; we play outside and we’re bringing sexy syntax back. Good thing they don’t test for PHP, cuz lemme tell you, we are definitely juicing. Getting a mobile app to work for a client stuck in IE7–that’s like slogging 20 feet through sand in less than 12 parsecs to dig a 70mph jump serve. Skinny budgets, tight deadlines, and Agile as hell…no wonder we look this good in a bikini.
Straight Outta Comp Time
We really should be at a barbecue right now. Or some other “team building” outing, humiliating the newbies by making them wear even less clothing than they wear to the office and competing with each other in other similar feats of global athletic prowess like burlap sack races, cornhole, and water balloon fights. Call us the agency’s Rodney Dangerfield: we put every ounce of effort into crushing this thing out of the park, and we get no respect. Just vapid, aimless, floating around complaining about PTO days, parking, and dental benefits. What is this, high school? Put your shuttlecock back in your pants and clean up your timesheets, you prima donna creatives.