If you’ve watched any of the Olympic Games over the past eight years, you’ve likely seen one of the notoriously tear-jerking Procter & Gamble “Thank you, mom” spots that celebrate parental involvement and pride in their children’s athletic success stories. But did you know that these acclaimed short films were directed by some of your favorite filmmakers?
Spearheaded by ad agency Wieden + Kennedy, these spots have been helmed by directors Jeff Nichols (Loving, Midnight Special) and Alejandro González Iñárritu (The Revenant, Birdman), as well as Lance Acord, who is best known as a cinematographer on indie favorites like Being John Malkovich and Lost in Translation. Iñárritu’s entry from 2012 (below), which was shot on four continents and features local actors and athletes from each location–London, Rio de Janeiro, Los Angeles, and Beijing—became one of the most widely spread viral Olympics campaigns of all time.
This year, P&G tapped experimental doc maker and commercial director Alma Har’el (Bombay Beach, LoveTrue), somewhat ironically the first female director in a multi-year series about moms. The choice comes appropriately on the heels of the one year anniversary of Har’el’s successful Free the Bid initiative, which aims to increase opportunities and visibility for female commercial directors (and which we covered in a recent Indie Film Weekly podcast).
Launched on The Ellen Degeneres Show this week, 100 days before the 2018 Olympics open, Har’el’s spot may be the most heart-wrenching version yet, combining her signature imaginative style with the added theme of #LoveOverBias, where P&G asks us to “Just imagine what the world could be if we all saw each other through a mom’s eyes.”
Har’el’s Olympics short is made all the more effective by singer Connie “Milck” Lim’s spare rendition of “Ooh Child (Things Are Gonna Get Easier)”. In keeping with the theme of the campaign and its attempt at portraying authentic stories, Har’el first encountered Lim at the the Women's March on Washington earlier this year, where the singer had gathered a diverse group of women from around the US to sign an a cappella version of her song “I Can’t Keep Quiet”. Watch this video from the event that Har’el shot on her phone and try not to get the chills.
Check out the Jeff Nichols entry (the darkest and perhaps most cinematic of the bunch) and the (downright adorable) Lance Acord spot below.
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8H-P2ds00CQ https://youtu.be/6Ult4t-1NoQ]