An Olympian ad campaign

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While walking through the Wangfujing shopping district in central Beijing this weekend I noticed a couple long lines of people snaking across the pedestrian mall. Not an unusual sight, but the people’s motivation for standing in the cold was interesting. They were there to be in an advertisement.

The ad is one that anyone in the Chinese capital who has taken a subway or watched television would be hard pressed to miss. It’s the new Adidas Olympic campaign that features Chinese athletes being helped by a mass of humans to shoot a basket, pass a soccer ball or jump off a high dive. They are distinct and eye catching.

Adidas says the “Together in 2008, Impossible is Nothing” campaign is the largest it has created for a single market. Per the folks at Shanghaiist, who wrote about the ads yesterday, they took six months to complete and are getting a similar reception in Shanghai.

In Wangfujing the crowds were waiting to get their photos taken and printed on postcard-size versions of the ad. If you stood long enough you have a personal size version of the billboard ad with your image on top of the mosh pit helping a Chinese player. A few hours later a friend mentioned that he had discussed the ad with a Chinese co-worker who said it showed the power of unity. They make me feel alternately inspired and as if I’m witnessing a mass campaign. Either way, looking at the ads makes one think, at least for a second, about what the Olympics mean to China.