At Sochi, Marketers Weep: Where Are the All-American Soap Opera Stars of Yesteryear?

Lindsay Vonn (& her boyfriend Tiger Woods!) are out, and the admen are lamenting, because they remain convinced that only AMERICA FVCK YEAH sells cheap beer and SUVs. From the Washington Post:

Olympic-related programming is a major part of NBC’s 2014 plans. Four years ago, more than 190 million people tuned in for at least part of the coverage of the Vancouver Games, and Steve Burke, the network’s CEO, called the Olympics the “soul” of NBC at a news conference Tuesday in New York. The network had spent months incorporating Vonn into their commercials and promotional plans and now will have to adjust.

“There’s plenty of stars out there,” said Mark Lazarus, chairman of NBC Sports Group. “Yes, we wish we still had Lindsey there, but we don’t. That’s the nature of sports. . . . Lots of stars unfortunately get injured and hurt.”

Lazarus pointed out that Americans brought home 37 medals from Vancouver and Vonn accounted for two, so there will surely be other athletes to focus on when the Games begin in Sochi…

And if the NBC Sports Group can find them, there will be many easy ledes about ‘returning from the dead’…

The cynical elitists at the NYTimes are cruel enough to suggest a Korean figure skater, a Russian hockey star, and a young Canadian curling phenom as potential substitutes.

I think most of us whose incomes do not rely on sports marketing will consider the Sochi Games a success if nobody — athlete or spectator — gets murdered by terrorists, and I include the hyped-up anti-gay Soviet yahoos along with the Chechen rebels in that category. But Politico brings gladsome tidings for the people selling ads:

The Obama administration is planning an Olympic-size ad blitz to push health coverage during the winter games next month.

HHS confirmed Tuesday that it has bought advertising time in markets with high rates of uninsured people to air during the Winter Olympics, which run Feb. 7-23…

The ads, which will run in markets like these across the country, will be aimed at young uninsured people and their families, an HHS official confirmed. POLITICO also confirmed that ads will run in North Carolina. According to HHS, ratings for typical primetime and sports programming dip during the Olympics, so the administration moved some of its paid media budget to the NBC Olympic inventory to maximize viewership.

No word on the images that might be used along with the usual messaging, although high-injury events such as the giant slalom or snowboarding offer immediate visuals to underscore the risk of going without health insurance…

“Obamacare! Or else you’ll wish the spinal-cord injury you sustain imitating that gnarly slopestyle move had killed you outright!”

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76 replies
  1. 1
    Mandalay says:

    If anyone is a David Attenborough fan, he did an AMA session on reddit yesterday….

    http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/c.....eddit_ama/

  2. 2
    KG says:

    One of the things that has bothered me the last few go rounds with the Olympics is the incessant need for NBC to focus on human interest stories among athletes. Honestly, I want to see them compete and I don’t mind the play by play folks tellig a bit of back story… But if I have an hour to watch, I don’t want 35 minutes spent telling me about the athlete when I could be watching other athletes compete

  3. 3
    srv says:

    Sadly, hipsters don’t do winter sports, so I’m not sure they’ll be able to relate.

    I’m thinking maybe zombies, vampires, something they can relate to.

  4. 4
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Unfortunately, something bad is going to happen at Sochi, and this will save the Olympics for NBC.

    The only thing that maters is the revenue. The actual events are secondary.

  5. 5
    James E. Powell says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    What makes you so sure? Hasn’t Putin rounded up everyone by now?

    Do the Winter Olympics ever get good ratings?

  6. 6
    Viva BrisVegas says:

    When are the real Olympics on?

  7. 7
    Another Holocene Human says:

    OT: Whoever is running around on this blog asserting that the term “boi” is derogatory needs to step the hell off right now and leave the GLBT&BDSM communities and our words alone.

    The term “fanboi” is derogatory because of the term “fan” from “fanatic” implying that someone is so blinded by their ideological devotion to a particular brand that they cannot perceive its drawbacks or flaws. After some thought I’m pretty sure the variant spelling (from “fanboy”) is just some silly l33tspeak, like writing teh for the.

  8. 8
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @KG: Millions on production values, millions on trying to block internet, satellite, basically any backend channel to get live coverage of the games. I have zero interest in their news magazine coverage, which is why I haven’t watched the Olympics in years. Not live sport? Fuck it. Viva Futbol!

  9. 9
    Baud says:

    I hope they use Pajama Boy in the Olympics ads.

  10. 10
    Poopyman says:

    @Baud: And I hope every ad starts out with some guy saying “Hey everybody! Watch this!”. More of a sports tie-in.

  11. 11
    Baud says:

    @Poopyman:

    Genius.

  12. 12
    Ben Cisco says:

    @Poopyman:

    And I hope every ad starts out with some guy saying “Hey everybody! HOLD MY BEER AND Watch this!”. More of a sports tie-in.

    There.

  13. 13
    raven says:

    The hockey was really cool last time.

  14. 14
    raven says:

    Rut ro, Joe and Mika piling on tons o fun!

  15. 15
    Baud says:

    @raven:

    Christie?

  16. 16
    raven says:

    @Baud: yup

  17. 17
    Baud says:

    @raven:

    Heh.

  18. 18
    Patricia Kayden says:

    @raven: Surprised they’re not trying to defend Christie. Shows how hopeless his case is.

  19. 19
    Betty Cracker says:

    Whoever it was who said that the GW Bridge story would have legs because it affects the NY media crowd was spot on. If Christie was the governor of Florida (and he would be a vast improvement over the current occupant) and had blown up the Rickenbacker Causeway in Miami, no one would give a shit.

  20. 20
    PurpleGirl says:

    I usually don’t follow the Olympics but I did follow the 1998 games in Nagano. They were the last year that IBM handled the internet sites for the Olympics and my friend who works for IBM spent roughly part of every month for a year going to Japan setting up for them and then almost two months straight during and after the games. (He was part of a team of some 300 working on the sites and internet security.)

    I liked the Snowlet mascots and he managed to get a complete set of the small bean-bag type figures for me.

  21. 21
    raven says:

    @Patricia Kayden: They are fully admitting to being his friend and offering him a place to got to answer hard questions.

  22. 22
    Baud says:

    offering him a place to got to answer hard questions.

    “Governor Christie, how hard has this whole thing been on you personally?”

  23. 23
    Poopyman says:

    @raven: With friends like that …

  24. 24
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    If “Cheap Political Stunts” was an Olympic competition Christie would win the Gold, Silver, and Bronze.

    @raven: They could win the Oscar for “Best Sycophants in a Reality Show”.

  25. 25
    kindness says:

    Hopefully Obama spends more on advertising for the ACA than the RNC spent on attack ads in Alaska.

    As far as the Olympic stars go? Olympics should be for non professionals. I shouldn’t know their names yet. It is at the Olympics where I should start to become aware of them. Yea I must be old. Ain’t yellin’ at the kids to get off my lawn yet though.

    @srv: Snowboarders? Hello!

  26. 26
    Pete Mack says:

    Well, NBC can go with women’s ski jump: the best jumper was injured because she jumped beyond the end of the landing area, making her fully competitive with the men. And sure enough, here are the “hottest” US women Olympian ski jumpers…who look exactly like any other group of top-notch female-or male!–athletes. (Healthy, young, in shape.)

  27. 27
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    Today’s entry In Things You Need to Know:

    Dogs defecate in accordance with earth’s magnetic field, research finds

  28. 28

    Unrelated but thought you’d enjoy: accidental shootings? Hey, “it happens”!

  29. 29
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    In other news, St Louis has dropped from #1 to #2 in rates of Chlamydia and Gonorrhea. In response, the city is moving to legalize the sale of condoms.

    And no, this is not a joke.

  30. 30
    BillinGlendaleCA says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Dogs defecate in accordance with earth’s magnetic field, research finds

    Nikki, my cocker, doesn’t give a shit which direction she shits.

  31. 31
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Southern Beale: As a gun owner, for whom that has never “happened”, that was a facepalm. The stupid, it burns.

  32. 32
    NonyNony says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    If Christie was the governor of Florida (and he would be a vast improvement over the current occupant) and had blown up the Rickenbacker Causeway in Miami, no one would give a shit.

    Actually I could totally see your current governor blowing up the Rickenbacker Causeway.

    It would be part of a convoluted plot to blackmail his own government into giving him a billion dollars and access to the Florida Kryptonite Reserves, and would end with him donning his green-and-purple battle armor when Superman shows up to once again put a stop to his evil schemes.

    I mean seriously. How do you elect freaking Lex Luthor to the governor’s mansion? At least Christie, Kasich, and Walker all have the decency to not look like comic-book supervillains even if they act like them.

  33. 33
    Cassidy says:

    @kindness: For the most part, you don’t unless you follow the sport year round. Every four years we remember the speed skater’s name. The women’s skiing and snowboarding get the most coverage because they’re the most photogenic. Who the hell knows who our figure skaters are? Hell, I follow boxing and amateur wrestling and still don’t know who all is on the team.

  34. 34
    Botsplainer says:

    As I watch the Bridgeghazi scandal unfold, I’m going to offer up the observation that if we take Republican elected officials at their word that they never, ever know about the evils their staffers perpetrate, it must take the most vile, mendacious shitstain to be drawn to be a GOP activist underling.

    These are people incapable of elective office on their own due to age, skeletons, proclivities or career goals so they’re content to a support job, but they perpetrate hideous policy and criminal acts as if nothing matters.

    I fell asleep to “Our Nixon” the other night and noted the complete lack of genuine remorse from Haldeman and Erlichman. I think this sociopathy is probably rampant throughout the group.

  35. 35
    ericblair says:

    @kindness:

    As far as the Olympic stars go? Olympics should be for non professionals.

    The problem with the old amateur status for Olympians is that it was completely classist. It wasn’t to give the up-and-comers a chance: it was instituted to make sure the Right People, who had enough money not to have to work for a living, participated, and Those People, who had to put food on the table, did not.

  36. 36
    Betty Cracker says:

    @NonyNony: I explored that question a few years ago…

  37. 37
    MikeJ says:

    @ericblair: Allowing pros in the Olympics didn’t solve that problem though.

  38. 38
    raven says:

    So, if Mika is just shocked that Christie is a bully when is she going to figure out what’s going on with that loudmouth asshole sitting next to her?

  39. 39
    Kay says:

    I noticed this in the emails yesterday but I didn’t know what it meant. There was another mayor mentioned:

    Hudson County political observers were stunned to learn today that Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop was apparently on a Port Authority enemies list long before he said he would file a $400 million lawsuit against the bi-state agency.
    In an email released today as part of the George Washington Bridge lane closure scandal, a top Christie aide asks then-Port Authority official David Wildstein whether the agency had responded to Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich’s complaints about the closures.
    “Radio silence,” Wildstein, a Christie ally, wrote on Sept. 9. “His name comes right after Mayor Fulop.”
    Fulop texted The Jersey Journal to say he believes the email means he’s “Enemy Number 1.” He declined to comment further or say whose enemy he thinks he is.

  40. 40
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Botsplainer: That and the fact that Republicans are really bad judges of character.

  41. 41
    JPL says:

    @Kay: IMO, reporters today are going to analyze where state money goes. If it shows possible signs of favoritism, you might have an answer to your question, The bridge closure might just be the beginning of the story.

  42. 42
    Cervantes says:

    I think most of us whose incomes do not rely on sports marketing will consider the Sochi Games a success if nobody — athlete or spectator — gets murdered by terrorists

    Yes.

    The spectacle itself is unwatchable at this point.

  43. 43
    ericblair says:

    @MikeJ:

    Allowing pros in the Olympics didn’t solve that problem though.

    I’m not sure I see what the problem is, exactly, that could be solved by not letting athletes get paid for what they do.

  44. 44
    Kay says:

    @JPL:

    Yeah, a problem with “bipartisanship” (I have noticed) is there’s no natural adversary, no real pushback. If you co-opt or actually involve the people who would be asking questions or raising objections it seems to me that clears the field and A Strong Leader can run rampant in a way that probably doesn’t lead to the best decisions. I believe it’s one of the things that happened with Iraq.

  45. 45
    mai naem says:

    Poor wittle Mika and Ho. It appears their pal has done something unseemly, turns out he is a bully. Let me call the Wahhhmabulance. Just better make sure it doesn’t have to go through the GW Bridge.

    And you gotta love the fact that the Deputy COC’s name is Bridge-t. You can’t make this stuff up. And the same year that American Hustle gots nominated for the Golden Globes and probably the Oscars.

  46. 46
    dmsilev says:

    Must-see-TV later today:

    Christie has a press conference scheduled for 11 a.m. Thursday and he will almost certainly address the matter.

  47. 47
    JPL says:

    @Kay: Here is an example of Christie trying to push through a pipeline.. link The comments are interesting.

  48. 48
    chrome agnomen says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    more like they’re good judges of bad character.

  49. 49
    BD of MN says:

    @srv:

    Sadly, hipsters don’t do winter sports, so I’m not sure they’ll be able to relate.

    Snowboarding being the exception that proves the rule, I think…

  50. 50
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    Nobody like Jon Stewart when he’s on. Or you know, when he’s not being a centrist blue dog comedian. This is so down his alley it was destined to be good. Corruptionnnnn!

  51. 51
    Jay C says:

    @dmsilev:

    Christie has a press conference scheduled for 11 a.m. Thursday and he will almost certainly address the matter.

    I’m sure somebody is in line to get thrown under the bus. As it crosses the GW Bridge…..

  52. 52
    Patricia Kayden says:

    @raven: I think she completely understands that Joe “Shut Up Mika” Scarborough is a bully. She plays along for the $$$.

  53. 53
    danielx says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Well, yeah! If you can’t use the Olympics to sell shit, what is it good for?

  54. 54
    danielx says:

    @Baud:

    “Governor Christie, how hard has this whole thing been on you personally?”

    “I can’t tell you how painful it is to have to listen to the screams as I throw my irresponsible staffers who committed these actions unbeknownst to me under the bus…”

  55. 55
    Cassidy says:

    Funny enough, for all the “I don’t watch” talk and the inevitable talks of boycott, the Olympics are the only way a lot of these young athletes get tv exposure which translates into a little much needed income.

  56. 56
    Geeno says:

    @ericblair: Of course the original idea for the modern Olympics was to bring the futures leaders of the world, the young male aristocrats, together so they could establish friendships and, it was hoped, be less likely to wage war on each other. That’s why there’s all that “gathering in peace” blather as if the athletes can influence that.

  57. 57
    MattF says:

    I’m on the ‘you’d have to pay me considerably more than my present salary before I’d watch the Sochi Olympics’ side of the issue. In fact, I kinda like watching sports if I really don’t have much else to do– but NBC’s motivations for being in Sochi don’t include my getting any pleasure from ‘watching sports.’.

  58. 58
    Citizen_X says:

    @Kay:

    a Port Authority enemies list

    Ok, that sounds pretty funny (“How many drones does the Port Authority have?”), until you start to endure your third hour on the damn bridge.

  59. 59
    Kay says:

    @JPL:

    Lovely. The former US Attorney had the prosecutors removed. Really enhances my faith in the legal system.

    I don’t really “get” people who don’t see him as a bully. It’s such phony bravery to yell at teachers. Give me break. That’s “truth to power”? That the punditry hacks thought those episodes were thrilling and were cheering him on makes me really doubt not just their intelligence but their whole value system. You’ll notice the big baby coward hid out for a day so he could consult and rehab his image. So much for “shooting from the hip”. I bet there were a lot of conference calls yesterday, carefully crafting his spontaneous reaction.

  60. 60
    Persia says:

    @Kay: And even if he really wasn’t involved in this, he’s surrounded himself with staffers who are so petty that they decided to hold up the busiest bridge in the world for hours because one mayor didn’t play nice. I mean, what the actual fuck? That was the best ‘revenge’ you could get on the mayor?

  61. 61
    dmsilev says:

    @Jay C:

    I’m sure somebody is in line to get thrown under the bus. As it crosses the GW Bridge…..

    As Jon Stewart pointed out last night, that’s not much of a threat since the bus will be stalled in hours-long gridlock.

  62. 62
    Elizabelle says:

    @Kay:

    That the punditry hacks thought those episodes were thrilling and were cheering him on makes me really doubt not just their intelligence but their whole value system.

    Yup. Hacks is hacks.

  63. 63
    Kay says:

    @Persia:

    I find it hard to believe he wasn’t involved. I think it would be a credible claim if it had been just the two individuals who worked for that one agency, but he only has three deputies, and one of them was leading the email charge. His press staffer was on the email list too. I find that part hard to believe, which doesn’t mean anyone can prove it.

    One of the people on the emails is a contractor for the Republican Governor’s Association in addition to his Christie job, and Christie is the chair of the Republican Governor’s Association, so there should be some questions there, too, for the GOP.

  64. 64
    Kay says:

    @Elizabelle:

    I think the public school teacher hatred is just weird. I don’t get why these highly-paid adults in media are screaming “YEAH!” when this jerk yells at a teacher.

    I think they should all seek counseling.

  65. 65
    KXB says:

    My interest in the Olympics fell after they stopped having both summer and winter games the same year. At that time, it was like an actual event. Now, with an Olympics every 2 years, it does not feel special. And while some play by play is fine (I can always press mute), you are lucky to get 15 minutes of actual sports in between the incessant back stories.

  66. 66
    Elizabelle says:

    @Kay:

    I wonder if the media types (many with “communications” degrees, no hard major) look down on teachers because of social status, or because teachers are Mom substitutes. They’re a form of authority you can mock from afar. Media pundits don’t punch up, do they? They don’t take on Daddy.

    Teaching as a field draws a lot of women, partially because it rewards soft skills, partially because the profession fits with raising a family of one’s own, and a lot because teachers have a sense of community and feel responsibility and challenge at helping to develop the next generations.

    (It’s also, frankly, seen as a stable job. People who go into teaching might be more risk averse than those who don’t mind being the Emperor without clothes on television and in print.)

    And there are teachers who are called to teaching — who genuinely have the gift of imparting skills and knowledge, and have great communications skills, and make a huge difference in a lot of their students’ lives — and maybe the pundits are jealous there?

  67. 67
    Persia says:

    @Kay: I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a ‘do something, just don’t tell me what’ situation.

  68. 68
    Tone In DC says:

    And while some play by play is fine (I can always press mute), you are lucky to get 15 minutes of actual sports in between the incessant back stories.

    Incessant commercials, as well. I think they have more than the usual 17-19 minutes per hour of ads during these non-games.

    Last, if I never see figure skating or skiing again, it’ll be fine with me.

  69. 69
    Cervantes says:

    @Elizabelle: Nice analysis.

    I think also that wealthy “media types” tend to be anti-union; collective bargaining is an affront to them.

    Plus on television, at least, it seems they are selected for their looks, not necessarily their ability to think — so demeaning teachers may be a defense mechanism for those with enough self-awareness to form an inferiority complex.

    Plus teachers generally can’t and don’t fight back; for one thing they are too busy.

  70. 70
    Elizabelle says:

    Yeah, NBC has ruined the Olympics. Very little sport, lots of yakking and commercials.

    Not ever something to look forward to.

    Which is sad, because the athletes are topnotch and it’s got to be such a life-changing experience to compete. And to represent your country.

    Aren’t they (allegedly) amateurs because they’re not all about the Benjamins?

    But NBC gives us schmaltz and commercialism and lessens the competition by their making it into an “event”.

  71. 71
    Scamp Dog says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I ran across that story a few days ago, and started paying attention to my dog when she did her business. I’ve seen her oriented east-west a couple of times, and her direction seems more correlated to the direction we were walking than anything else.

    I went to the trouble of looking up the original scientific paper, and it looks like the authors were fairly careful about eliminating confounding effects, etc. They do mention that the effect goes away when the magnetic field isn’t stable, and we have had a solar flare messing with things in the last couple of days (according to the bad astronomy blog), so I’m withholding final judgement for the time being.

  72. 72
    Elizabelle says:

    OK, so Bridget whatever goes under the bus, because she lied to Governor Christie.

    Next …

  73. 73
    lichnor says:

    Seth Wescott.

    2 time defending gold medalist in the Snowboard Boardercross event. The only person ever to win the event. Firs US athlete to defend their gold medal at a winter olympics. Big in his community. From Maine. Down to earth.he should be a facve they use.

  74. 74
    J R in WV says:

    @Kay:

    Yes! And this kind of manager/bully won’t even allow his staff to fart without getting permission from the head bully first!

    So there is no way the order to do this didn’t come straight from Gov. Christie! No way.

    So if they all deny that he started this ball rolling downhill, they become part of a conspiracy to cover up the truth, which is how all the famous ?-gates started and ended, the cover-up is so much worse than the original crimes!

    Nixon and his “plumbers”, Ronnie and the Iran-Contra gang, even Bill and his denial of having sex “with that woman”. Remember, President Clinton wasn’t impeached so much for the blow-job, but for lying about it under oath. I actually admired him for trying to protect others by lying about it for so long. A real shame Monica didn’t launder the dress!

    I like how the spell checker knows how to properly spell blow-job, and marked it wrong for me in the first usage! Of course, it wants British spellings of lots of words, which I try to ignore…

  75. 75
    J R in WV says:

    @J R in WV: Whoops, wrong thread! my bad….

  76. 76
    karen says:

    It’s almost like the Mafia…

    “Do you like your lanes? It would be a shame if those lanes were to get clogged with hours of traffic that might…. MIGHT kill a 91 year old woman because the EMT couldn’t get there in time.”

    I didn’t see Stewart last night so I have no idea if he did this routine last night.

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