Nike is first out of the gate, unveiling "Courage," a spot that uses only still photography and the pulsing alt-rock rhythm of The Killers' "All These Things That I've Done."
The final image is of South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius, who recently won the right to compete in Beijing on his high-tech prostheses. "Everything you need is already inside," the ads say.
Nike describes the spot as "a mosaic of 'Just do it' moments," and says that the ad also celebrates the 20th anniversary of "Just do it." "The fast-paced cut takes viewers on an inspiring journey highlighting obstacles athletes at every level must face and overcome," Nike says in its release introducing the ad.
The TV commercial--already circulating on YouTube and Nike sites-- kicks off in Asia and the Americas Saturday; in Europe, the Middle East and Africa regions on July 25; and in the U.S. on Aug. 8, when the Olympics officially begin. (This year's games conclude Aug. 24.)
The ad will run in addition to Nike's ongoing marketing efforts, including a major push for the Hyperdunk basketball shoe, developed with Kobe Bryant and rolled out in stores this month. (Team USA will wear it and other Nike gear on the court in China.)
Adidas has also begun rolling out a series of its own inspirational ads.
The international print ads focus on how many people it takes to propel an athlete to Olympic levels. "I run with 600 million legs," says an ad featuring Jeremy Wariner. TBWA/Tequila Hong Kong created the campaign.
And Reebok, now a division of Adidas, is launching this week its latest: The VY Electrify football cleat and trainer, a line named for Vince Young, quarterback for the Tennessee Titans. A national marketing campaign, including TV ads that follow Young from his Pop Warner days to the present, will support the line. Ads were created in-house.