Glaxo scores with Olympic anti-doping ads

Throwing its weight--and $31 million--behind the London Olympics qualified GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) as a good corporate citizen. But as it turns out, the company is getting its money's worth in publicity. Thanks to a savvy marketing move--setting up an anti-doping lab--Glaxo has made so many headlines and newscasts that it would be easier to count which major media haven't run a feature.

Now, Glaxo's Olympic advertising is turning heads. TV ads, posters and billboards have gone up all over the U.K., focusing, again, on the anti-doping lab. And these are no seen-it-all-before Olympic-ring celebrations. Glaxo's TV commercials do take the usual approach of featuring home-country athletes, but forego hackneyed crowd shots and swelling, sentimental music.


Take the commercial featuring British track star Marlon Devonish. It begins in a crowded, screaming stadium, but then swoops through Devonish's body with its swarming red blood cells, firing synapses, expanding lungs, and fast-beating heart--interspersed with rapid-fire images of fast-moving forces of nature. A tornado, for instance. When the visual stream shows hair standing on end, ours did, too.

It all ends with an anti-doping tagline: The Crowd Is My Only Drug. The implication: Devonish's body is gearing up for action quite well on its own adrenaline rush, thank you.

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