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Cheeky Olympics Ads


Now that this season of Mad Men, the brilliant TV series about Madison Avenue ad men (and women) in early ‘60s NYC, has ended, Richard and I plan to watch it the way we prefer to watch a season of a TV show, all at once.  So, no spoilers, please.  We'll download it from iTunes or Netflix and have a marathon viewing session, 13 episodes in a row. 

Speaking of marathons, and advertising, we’ve noticed a few posters in Paris promoting the 2012 Olympics in London, created on behalf of an Olympics sponsor, Eurostar, the high-speed train service that gets people from Paris (or Brussels) to London in less than three hours. The ads seem to us pure genius. Why?

· They express an ironic message about something of value: excellence in athletics and health (As the pre-Socratic philosopher, Thales, said: “Νος γις ν σώματι γιεῖ," -- “A healthy mind in a healthy body.”); 

· but without preaching; 

· with quintessential deadpan British humor;

· depicting two English blokes with English hair and paunchy bodies as ancient Greek statues, frozen in modern “athletic” poses for two favorite British pub sports: darts and snooker.

We discovered that the ad campaign for Eurostar was created by a French company, Leg, who have done other Eurostar ads poking fun at French stereotypes of the beer-swilling Brits, an approach that's likely to attract the French and Belgians to London’s Olympic Games.

How delicious! Wouldn’t it be great if all advertising were this witty and original, linking ancient art and attitudes about health with modern physical culture? How rare is that?

Now if only they’d reinstate the ancient Greek custom of competing naked, rubbed all over with glistening olive oil, Richard and I would jump on the Eurostar and go, too. Or maybe we'll just rub each other with olive oil for our Mad Men marathon.


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Reader Comments (17)

Wonderful. Was a great experience to discover these posters in the metro.

Monday, June 11, 2012 at 20:45 | Unregistered CommenterSusan Griffin


Thank you! And an even greater experience was to see you in Paris.

Much love,

Kaaren (& Richard)

Monday, June 11, 2012 at 21:49 | Unregistered CommenterKaaren Kitchell & Richard Beban

These are great. What a good eye to catch them.

Love, Celluch

Tuesday, June 12, 2012 at 6:07 | Unregistered CommenterCarol Cellucci

This is so wonderful. I love the humor. What a great Laugh!!!


Tuesday, June 12, 2012 at 6:09 | Unregistered CommenterJoanne Warfield

Dear Kaaren (& Richard) ~

These are hilarious! And brilliant! I especially love the dart dude's haircut. :) (Yet another French swipe at the Brits?)

I missed the whole Mad Men thing. If I ever catch up, I'll have to do it the way you and Richard plan to... via a Netflix marathon. Back in the day, when I was a starry-eyed advertising copywriter (though certainly later than the time period for that series, just let me clarify! :)) it was my dream to work at a big agency like Leo Burnett or J. Walter Thompson or Ogilvy & Mather. Even though my imagined version was way off the mark of the reality of working in a big agency, I still have a fair amount of romantic nostalgia about it. And I do love a witty and original ad campaign to this day. So thanks for sharing this one...


Tuesday, June 12, 2012 at 8:53 | Unregistered Commenterdawna

Hi Carol,

You can't miss them! They're all over the bus and Metro stops. It's so rare that we love an ad.


Kaaren (& Richard)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012 at 16:08 | Unregistered CommenterKaaren & Richard

Dear Joanne,

Yes, that's it. They're truly funny and elegant too. We're glad you're laughing.


Kaaren (& Richard)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012 at 16:09 | Unregistered CommenterKaaren & Richard

Dear Dawna,

So glad you enjoyed the post. The ironic thing about "Mad Men" is that I can't think of another friend who would enjoy it more. It has all the design elements you love (mid-century), and is a complex drama with surprising plot turns and compelling characters, it examines the dark side of human nature, and is set in the world of advertising in which you worked. You have a huge treat in store for you! And it's much more fun to watch it as if it's a film. TV episodes are frustrating, too short, with too many commercial breaks.


Kaaren (& Richard)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012 at 16:15 | Unregistered CommenterKaaren & Richard

this newest paris play is soooo wonderful!
love the humor!!

did I tell you about the tshirt our architect friend wore on our recent boating trip in The Grenadines?
Richard will esp’ly love this one:
Irony: the opposite of Wrinkly


Tuesday, June 12, 2012 at 16:20 | Unregistered CommenterSuki Edwards

Dear Suki,

Glad you enjoyed it.

And love the Irony! Though I don't mind Wrinkly either.


Kaaren (& Richard)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012 at 16:24 | Unregistered CommenterKaaren & Richard

K & R,

.... man boobs, muffin tops, cholesteral belted midriff tires. If they were slathered with olive oil it would be difficult to get a good grip on the love handles and other cooking utensils!


Wednesday, June 13, 2012 at 10:42 | Unregistered Commentermargueriite baca


You could whip those guys into shape in a few months. If only yoga were a pub sport...

But to be fair to the Brits, they won more gold metals at the last Olympics than the French did.

Much love,

Kaaren (& Richard)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012 at 15:44 | Unregistered CommenterKaaren & Richard

If you sit in seat number 2 (from the left), would you have a very small penis protruding from your left ear, like a flower?

Now there's a shot I'd like to see.

Friday, June 15, 2012 at 16:51 | Unregistered CommenterAnna

Dear Raunchy Anna,

The shot WE'D love to see is of you in seat #2 with a fresh blossom in your ear!


Kaaren (& Richard)

Monday, June 18, 2012 at 5:25 | Unregistered CommenterKaaren & Richard

Yes, raunch and scripture.

And there are actually people in the world who don't think those two go together.

Monday, June 18, 2012 at 23:45 | Unregistered CommenterAnna

Dear Kaaren and Richard,

I love the Olympic ones.

The draining tedium of the training those athletes experience to get to perform! Oy!

And the immense number of bagels and cream cheese those models for the ads had to devour! Oy! Oy!

Actually, I have not seen Madmen, for I don't have cable, and although Amanda says it is wonderful -- and who am I to disbelieve her? -- two things prevent me from seeing it (although I one day will), and one is that I was actually a part of that world at that time and I already know about that world: I worked for nine years at Dancer Fitzgerald Sample on Madison Avenue. 1961-70. And two is that I found that world distasteful.

But re-enter it, I must.

Lova ya,


Sunday, July 22, 2012 at 14:06 | Unregistered CommenterBruce Moody

Dear Bruce,

Maybe for athletes who love to compete, the training isn't so tedious?

And you know that those ad models had a merry time eating and drinking their way into those relaxed bodies at the Pub.

I didn't know you'd been an ad man. You may find that the script for Mad Men mirrors your distaste for that world. It's actually quite subversive, much more radical than is apparent on the surface. Mathew Weiner is particularly concerned with showing how women of the time were treated. Much of the drama stems from what he learned from older female relatives who weren't allowed to pursue the work they wanted to do, but instead were kept in the kitchen or treated like second-class citizens. I think you'll enjoy it. Amanda has good taste in drama.

Much love,

Kaaren (& Richard)

Sunday, July 22, 2012 at 14:22 | Unregistered CommenterKaaren Kitchell & Richard Beban

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