Thursday, 16 August 2012

What an advertising exec told the Olympians on the plane home

Ad Man Don Draper tells it like it is

Our beloved Olympians are now home. Just like in the ad, this week we gazed up at the sky and saw a Qantas plane overhead, carrying our precious cargo. Its nose was flying a bit higher than the back, because only the gold medallists were ushered into First Class. Silver got Business and Bronze was in Premium Economy, with the losers shoved in the back cattle class. Nothing brings you down to earth more than having to peel off the plastic on your cheese and biscuits, while your more successful peers are clinking the Moet-filled crystal up front.

Nick Green used the opportunity of a captive audience to kick off the debrief. “Guys, I’m proud of you all. But dismal failure is worth nothing if we don’t take the time to learn something from it. Who’d like to share with the team something they’d do differently next time?”  The athletes start fidgeting with the inflight entertainment remote; the closest thing to Twitter they’re going to have for the next 31 hours.

“Ok, well can someone tell me what competition means to them?” he persists.  Steve Hooker takes his hair out of its ponytail, showing he means business. “It’s agreeing with all your fellow competitors to not bother jumping another centimetre until the final.”  
Nick looks confused and asks Steve to elaborate. “Why only have 12 guys in the medal round when you can have 14?” Leisel Jones snorts in disgust and orders a double burger with the lot.
Green tries a different approach. “What about handling the media – what have we learnt about that….James?” Magnussen stares out the window, wondering if they’ll ever name that pool down below after him. “I dunno. Haven’t got a response to that really.”

Green sighs, exasperated. “Cadel, can you give me something here?” Cadel “Ain’t No Stoppin’ Me” Evans slowly raises his head from the pillow. “I’m really tired mate. The Tour and the new kid…sorry mate.”

Kim Crowe meanwhile has constructed a makeshift ergo machine in the aisle. “Anyone not competing in at least 20 events is soft,” she says. Nick Green’s face brightens. “That’s the spirit Kim! Now, you will all no doubt be hounded by agents and deals once we hit the tarmac, so I’ve invited an advertising guru to give you some tips.”

The Ad Man gets up from his seat to speak, wiping his nose and sniffing.  “I know you came over to London to do your best, represent your country, win gold, blah blah. Well it’s over now. What begins is a dogfight and you need to be ready to fully exploit yourself- I mean- your earning potential. Hey, and don’t think the coin is just for those at the front of the plane – some of you losers are a lot more marketable.”

Stephanie Rice momentarily stops taking photos of herself.  “Steph, only you could sell rice to China, but I’m talking about you, Dollface,” says Ad Man as he walks towards Jessica Fox in Business Class.  “Fox by name, foxy by nature,” he says to the dimpled, curly one. “I’m gonna make you a star Felicity.”

“Why is this guy calling me Felicity?” asks Jess innocently. “F*&ed if I know,” says Elizabeth Cambage. “Why, do you want him? He’s married. Stop being a f*%ing groupie.”

Closing ceremony flag holder Malcolm Page turns his head at the commotion behind. “I can tell you this because I’m old,” he says to Jess.  I’m 40. Felicity was a TV show.”

“Felicity,” continues the Ad Man. “Learn from your namesake. Do not ever cut your hair.” Jess nods slowly, wondering if the cabin pressure is getting to everyone. “But for Chrissake, can you get into a sport that ordinary Australians can relate to –K1 Slalom?! And pick something where we can see some skin for crying out loud.”

Ad Man scours the rest of the plane and says Sally Pearson is going to be rich but could relax a bit with the determined gaze. “That split second win was superb,” he tells her. “The drama in watching you writhe about, not knowing whether you’d got it was outstanding. Do it again, babe.”

Tom Slingsby sits quietly studying the America’s Cup rulebook.  “Redemption!” booms Adman at him. “From Bejing bomber to London gold, you’ve got it all – rugged Aussie good looks and a backstory. Magnussen, learn from this guy!” 

“I feel so embarrassed about that bloody commercial,” says Magnussen, practising his new practised humility. Adman rushes to him, cupping his face in his hands. “Don’t worry Alpha Mag, I’ve told the agency next time we’re going to leave the ‘T’ on the cliff with you until after the race….”