Opinion: Finding Meaning

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Olympic Love

I didn’t get a lot done last week—the Beautiful Wife and I watched the Olympics. It was great. The non-stop spirit, skill and dedication of these mostly young Olympic athletes inspired. Though fame and fortune may follow for a few, most compete out of love for their sport. The Olympics, at the end of the day, is about people rising to be the best they can. They inspired us but I was surprised by something we usually avoid: the commercials.

I wasn’t a happy camper at first, there were so many commercials, but started to notice some we liked. The memorable ones tell an uplifting story with the lightest mention of the sponsor. Here are my favorites.

Oreo cookies, one of my guilty pleasures when taken with milk, used the clever theme, “Fiercely Together.” The commercial showed athletes competing alone and in teams as they sang that great children’s song “The More We Get Together.” The score concluded with the promise, “the happier we’ll be,” and the image of an Oreo sliding apart to make a smile to taglines of “Play brings the world together,” and, “Stay playful.” Who wouldn’t love that? I’m going to buy some Double Stuf Oreos.

Toyota had just a few commercials but I loved the one called “Start Your Impossible.” It profiles the life of Mexican gymnast Alexa Moreno, with the exhortation, “When life becomes an uphill struggle, ‘Keep Rising,’” and the tagline “Start Your Impossible.” Toyota offered another with the exhortation, “You don’t have to be amazing to start, but you have to start to be amazing.”

When I got out of engineering school my first job was with Procter & Gamble at a plant once in Long Beach harbor. I’m still loyal to P&G products. Their commercials under the #LeadWithLove hashtag were awesome. One, “Your Goodness is Your Greatness,” included the iconic scene from the 2016 Olympics 5000-meter heat when two runners tripped and fell and one, Abney (nee, D’Agostino) Cooper of the USA, stopped to help her competitor to her feet and encouraged her to continue the race. Over these scenes the voice of parents is heard intoning, “I’m proud of you . . . for doing things not for yourself but for others . . . I can’t wait to see what you do next.”

Another P&G ad, “Love Leads to Good,” begins with a mom breaking up her child’s fight, reminding her son to show care as he is strong and moved to other scenes of parents encouraging their children. It finishes with a boxer helping up a defeated opponent after spotting his mom in the crowd giving him a certain look, her eyes glistening. Maybe it was the same boxer shown as a child fighting but the tagline “We can be the people you taught us to be,” made me think so. There’s meaning in that.

Skip fell in love with Laguna on a ‘50s surfing trip. He’s a student of Laguna history and the author of Loving Laguna: A Local’s guide to Laguna Beach. Email: [email protected]

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