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Lewis Lazare follows Chicago media and marketing news

Final Chicago 2016 video a costly failure

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There was always a troubling sense -- during the long lead-up to the devastating International Olympic Committee vote last Friday -- that the Chicago 2016 Committee was trying to eke out a victory in the competition as cheaply as possible. Little money was spent on campaigns to win over Chicago's local populace to the idea of hosting the Olympics until it was too late to do much good, and even those last-ditch efforts seemed low-budget and unconvincing.

But as lacking in lavishness and compelling thematics as most of Chicago 2016's efforts were in selling Chicagoans and the IOC on Chicago as a host Olympic city, the 2016 Committee, sources say, did manage to open very wide their pockets for that last disappointing video that was a central part of last Friday's final pitch to the IOC. One source pegged the cost of the underwhelming, heavily-tweaked video at well in excess of a cool $1 million -- an astounding sum given how little the video helped further Chicago's bid.

The decision to feature in the video the youth of Chicago and their "together we can" mantra may have seemed a clever touch to some within the Chicago 2016 crowd. But the fact is the youth angle already had been overused in the Chicago pitch. Yes, young people are at the center of the Olympics, but that's no reason to focus on them to the point of obsession.

In any event, it's too late to do anything about the lackluster video or the money spent on it. But if there's ever to be another Olympic pitch from Chicago, we hope whoever is calling the shots next time will remember it's important to think big. The Olympics demand nothing less.

2 Comments

Sweet Tooth Home Chicago.

It’s easy to be an armchair director and critique the ill-fated video that was shown at the final presentation during finals for the 2016 Olympic city bid. Just ask anyone who lives here. We’re all doing it.
But besides being a typical Chicagoan, I’m also a marketing and advertising, guy, so my urge to purge about this video presents double trouble. Therefore, in the true Chicago style of forgive-me-but-I-gots-to-call-em-as-I-sees-em, here it is:
What were you guys thinking?
If the video that I saw on you tube is representative of your pitch, I’m surprised you weren’t disqualified for intentional eye glazing.
Contrast this with Rio’s video. No old-fashioned, simpered up, “they’ll need the two-ply” tissue techniques. No Brazilian athletes talking about their hopes they way even an athlete from Lichtenstein would and could. No voice-overs who have the sincerity of a mortician who wants to sell you the premium urn. Just engaging, energetic videos of this energetic city and its energetic people, against the backdrop of energetic music. And oh, did I say energetic?
The “City That Works” shouldn’t be the City that comes across like a glass of warm milk before nighty night. What I saw was a transparent attempt to make people get all “gosh darn it, “ about this city that doesn’t have one ounce of “gosh darn it” in its DNA.
I’ve never been to Rio, but I know it’s no Chicago. We don’t have the mountains, the ocean and all the tourist attractions that Rio has. So why even try to compete on that basis? Sure beauty shots of Chicago are needed. But 3 minutes of “hey we’re pretty too” is well, 3 minutes of of meeting the minimum requirement.
While watching this. I was trying to imagine myself as a voting member of the IOC. Political leanings aside, I’d want to vote for a city that I knew could pull off the demanding challenges that staging the Olympics presents. This is no job for the faint of heart and or the fancy of dance. All the cities competing presented themselves as show horses. But in the final analysis, it was time to pick the workhorse. Chicago is the Clydesdale among Thoroughbreds, and there’s nothing that should have shamed us from showing that power trumps prance.
How many cities could completely reinvent themselves with iconic architecture after the entire place turned into an ashtray? How many cities deal with the challenges that are presented by a checkerboard of diverse interests represented by our neighborhoods? How many cities could claim that they have people who truly love where they work and live, despite our long winters and yes, even those pesky potholes. The voters were well aware that every city has its own brand of challenges. But what I don’t think the voters got is that Chicago is the city that can teach a few lessons about how to address challenges.
As hard as I tried to find the “why Chicago,” in this video, I never got the “damn it, that’s why!” I was looking for. The answer certainly has nothing to do with a Chicagoan Olympian who used to jog in Hyde Park and is now smitten with the fact that the Olympics could (Wow! Gosh!) come to Chicago. And I certainly applaud the determination shown by the hometown wheelchair athlete, but c’mon folks, aren’t we being just a tad exploitative?
Instead, I was looking for answers to why this city and its people are so hell-bent on turning problems into opportunities? Where did this ethic come from and how does it manifest itself? Sure we’re built around museums, great cultural opportunities, and beautiful skylines. But our foundation is enterprise. It’s vision. It’s fixing what’s broke and making life better for its citizenry. Over and over again.
Our energy isn’t the glitzy kind. It’s the “get it done” kind. And there are plenty of examples that were missed that could have proven the point. No city can even come close to that brand of energy that makes us different. Instead of showing that, we went for tears. For the IOC it got sneers. And for Chicagoans, well, it did cause some of us to cry.

Jim Signorelli
Chairman/CEO
ESW Partners


no WAY we spent $1M on that thing. can't be. tell me it isn't so. please. even if you have to lie to me.

because i just watched that video on youtube, and man, was that a dull snoozefest. stir the soul? really? it's a litle hard to stir anyone's soul when they're fast asleep.

i have no idea what chicago's planning committee wanted me to take away from that video. no idea whatsoever.

(yes, mr. signorelli, why chicago? why indeed?)

and apparently, i wasn't the only one. it would seem the IOC felt the same way.

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Lewis Lazare has written the Media Mix column for the Chicago Sun-Times for the past seven and a half years.

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