Thursday, March 11, 2010

Woman Suffers Olympics Commercials Withdrawal

Emily Johnson's eyes welled up at the Winn Dixie this week when she pulled out her Visa credit card to pay for her sliced ham and Pringles potato chips. "Go World," she mouthed, choking back a sob.

Johnson does not know any Vancouver Olympians, nor has she ever attended an Olympics. But 11 days after Canada defeated the U.S. men's hockey team, Johnson said she would give anything to have the Olympics last longer.

It's not the elegant, triple lutz-throwing figure skaters that Johnson misses, or the daredevil snowboarders, or even watching Apolo Ohno becoming the most decorated U.S. Winter Olympian. Rather, the 43-year-old mother of three said that it's the commercials that she yearns for -- from Visa's "Go World" themed ones to the internecene Cola Cola snowball fight in the Olympic Village.

Johnson's nostalgia for the commercials may make the brand marketing industry salivate, but her constant references to 30-second ads has puzzled and at times horrified her family.

After 14-year-old Julie's softball team won its match, Johnson, who was in charge of bringing snacks, sought to give her daughter's team an unnecessary, discordant pep talk. "You came in with one goal. And unfortunately, you left with one goal," she said, as Julie hissed, "They're runs, mom. We score runs, not goals."

Johnson continued, "But I'm proud of you. You played like Olympians, so today we eat like Olympians," dramatically pulling out a box of Chicken McNuggets.

"It was so embarrassing. She insisted on giving that speech that the hockey coach gave on the McDonalds commercial, even though we won," Julie recounted. "Then she got disappointed when we didn't cheer like they did in the commercial, and she was all offended when of my teammates told her for future reference that Chik-fil-A's Chick-n-Strips are better."

When the AT&T commercial with the snowboarder that does that halfpipe all the way to the moon came on a day after the Closing Ceremonies, Johnson perked up, and hummed, "It's such a perfect day" -- lyrics from the song in the commercial -- for the rest of the evening, according to Bill Johnson, Emily's exasperated husband.

"Thank God she doesn't know how to use Tivo," Julie said. "I saved the ladies free skate, but she thinks that Tivo forces you to skip commercials. I'm not going to tell her otherwise she'll just be sitting there for hours, fast forwarding through Kim Yu-Na and Mao Asada to get to that weird commercial of Apolo Ohno skating on the spinning ice rink.

McDonalds and Visa aren't the only companies to win Johnson's favor with their heartstrings-tugging ads, though the Visa commercial featuring Dan Jansen skating a victory lap with his daughter, Jane, may be her favorite. In close contention is Proctor & Gamble, which debuted a series of commercials with pint sized athletes engaging in various winter sports, and a salute to their moms.

"She's telling our five-year-old 'To me, you'll always be my kid,' said Bill Johnson. "But he's five, and that's just confusing to him."

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