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Viewers Give High Marks to Ads Featuring Olympic Themes

2 minute read | February 2010

As it turns out, American TV viewers like their Olympics – even in the commercials they watch.

A Nielsen survey asking Olympics viewers about commercials aired during NBC’s primetime Olympic coverage through February 20 shows that six of the 10 most liked ads contained an Olympics theme.  The ads, aired by Visa, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, and Procter & Gamble, included either a direct mention to the Olympics or imagery alluding to the games.

Visa produced the most liked ad in the first week of Olympic primetime coverage. The emotional spot featuring the story of U.S. speedskater Dan Jansen was liked three times more than the average commercial aired during NBC Olympic telecasts. Visa placed two more ads on the top 10 list, including a spot featuring U.S. skier Julia Mancuso, which earned likeability levels twice as much as the average.

Top 10 Ads during NBC Primetime Olympics Coverage

Commercials delivering the greatest percentage of viewers who can both recall the advertised brand and like the ad “a lot”

RANK Brand Ad Description Likeability Index
1 Visa (:30) The story of Dan Jansen losing his sister Jane; next Olympics he wins and skates victory lap with daughter Jane 301
2 Orville Redenbacher (:15) A father and brother join a little girl at her tea party in order to eat popcorn 293
3 Coca-Cola (:30) Historical images show Olympic athletes receiving medals; if you’ve had a Coke in the last 82 years, you’ve had a hand in making every Olympic dream come true 272
4 Ford Focus (:15) A woman describes how her car has cut her visits to the gas station in half; might get a manicure now 257
5 Visa (:30) 25 years ago we created “We Are the World” to help Africa; download new version of song to help Haiti 255
6 McDonald’s (:30) A coach tell his losing hockey team that they played like Olympians, and they will eat like Olympians too 242
7 Diet Coke (:15) A cartoon stick figure exercises in front of a deflated heart to pump it up; raise awareness of heart health 206
8 Visa (:30) When she was a little girl, Julia Mancuso drew a poster of herself as a gold medalist; she doesn’t have to draw her own posters anymore 205
9 McDonald’s (:30) Man walks into tropical McDonald’s; crowded with winter athletes; sweet chili sauce to dip Chicken McNuggets 195
10 P&G (:60) Mothers sing “You’ll Never Walk Alone” to children in different settings, including while fixing a tire and watching figure skating 194
Source: The Nielsen Company

Methodology: The above ranking is based on the percentage of TV viewers who can both recall the advertised brand and report to like “a lot” an ad they had an opportunity to see during the normal course of viewing Olympics programming, on NBC primetime from 2/12 – 2/20. These scores are indexed against the mean score for all ads in the Olympics during the time period (Likeability Index). 100 equals average. Only traditional ads considered for above ranker; sponsored segments and branded promos/ vignettes are excluded here. Ranking is based on 13,365 surveys of NBC Olympics viewers.

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