Monday, July 19, 2004

olympic advertisements

I don't know what the deal is with advertisers and the Olympics.
Every time the Olympics approaches, a lot of companies come up with "different" advertisements. Don't get me wrong, I think that most of the Olympic advertisements are good. But most of them have this effect where it makes all the small folicles of hair on my hair stand up straight. I like that, and just wish they could have proper advertisements all the time -- advertisements that most people would enjoy watching.
If anybody recalls, the last Olympics in Sydney, there was a Petronas (I think) advertisement, which probably is the best advertisement I have ever seen. Its a black and white scenario in the backdrop of a kampung. Man Bai's "Kau Ilhamku" is the tone setting to give the added atmosphere. Two kids, one fat ass and one skinny fart are doing house chores. They help wash cars and stuffs and get paid for it.  At night, they watch the glory of the hockey team on TV and they cheer Mirnawan Nawarwi.
After collecting enough money, they put it in one big bag, they WALK to the airport. A colour setting is now seen and in the backdrop of Kuala Lumpur. The fat kid goes up to the counter and asks to buy 2 tickets to Sydney. "Mau pegi tengok hoki," says the little kid. The nice lady behind the counter asks, "Adik ada passport tak?" They shake their heads and dejectedly walk away, disspointed that they miss the chance to see their heroes.
Just then, the hockey team walk into the airport. The fat kid sees them and starts kowtowing to them. His little brother follows suit. They are happy and walk back home. The punchline is the last scene where they are on the way home. The little guy asks his brother, "Abang, passport tu apa? Duit ke?" To which his brother shrugs and says,"Entahla. Abang pun tak tau."
Even on TV these days, a lot of advertisements about the Olympics somehow evoke a funny spirit in you. Stuffs like "You may have the muscles of Hercules, legs like the wind, bla di di bla bla, but the most powerful muscle in your body is your heart." There's another one that quotes a Bulgarian weightlifter who won the silver in 1992 :" People who say that winning the silver is actually losing the gold, obviously have not won the silver before" and is accompanied by the guy leaping like crazy after "winning" the silver. Ordinarily all these shits sounds damn bloody cheesy. But in this context and when watching the accompanying video clips, it is actually quite good.
But one thing all these ads lack : realism in the Malaysian flavour.
The ultimate Olympic advertisement goes as follows:
A small kid in some remote kampung in Sandakan watches the Olympics on TV. He sees Watson Nyambek fail miserably to get past the heats of the 100m. He then looks out his window, and sees a torn and tattered Malaysian flag hanging from the roof of his house. Politicians had left it there the previous general election and never took it down. Its symbolism at its finest. He vows to train hard to uphold the country's pride.
He does that everyday. He sprints to school. He carries two pails of water drawn from the well and sprints with them. The music plays to Sheila Majid's Lagenda, cause that's what he wants to be -- a legend. As the years go by, another general election comes, and a new flag replaces the countless old and tattered flags. The wind blows, and Jalur Gemilang flaps graciously in the wind. The camera focuses on his muscular feet and then switches shot to his eyes, full of confidence and determination.
The gun goes off, as he is running in a stadium alongside the other great sprinters in the world. The camera focuses on him, solely on him. The fire and the passion in his eyes as he seeks glory is clearly seen even through his Oakleys. Just then, the crowd roars out loud.
But our hero is still running. Camera zooms out and the audience discovers that some damn Yank had already won the race, and that our hero is still 10m from the finish line. He finally crosses the line last. But its ok. Cause he is the first Malaysian to reach the finals of the 100m in the Olympics. He returns to a hero's welcome.
The passion seen through the Oakleys had already evaporated. It had been replaced with complacency and greed. Our national hero now becomes a Grandfather. He is showered with gifts everywhere he goes.  He gets a Bata sponsorship for running shoes and appears in various Milo advertisements. But its been ages since he has been home to see his father who had coached him previously.
He finally goes home to see his ailing father. Who bestows upon him some word of wisdom, " With great power comes great responsibility." The old man continues," You have the power to run, but you have become complacent. You should be ashamed of yourself." But our hero has none of that. He scolds his father for not being proud of him for being a Grandfather and  a national hero. The father heaves a huge sigh of dissapointment and looks out the window. There in the background, amidst the cloudy skies lie the once again tattered flag drapped over the flagpole, refusing to fly, unfazed by the strong winds of change.
*Damn. I think I make a damn bloody good Director.
*Grandfather = Datuk
*If any of my foreign readers don't understand the Grandfather joke, well, never mind about it. 

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