WOW: #PhelpsFace


Did you watch the 2016 Rio Olympics? Do you remember Michael Phelps’ 50 free time or his face while prepping to race Lochte? Intel bets that you remember #PhelpsFace more and launched a new campaign inspired by the famous meme. The spot features comedian Jim Parsons teasing Michael Phelps about his perturbed face while he uses an old computer. Why is the world’s fastest swimmer on the world’s slowest computer?

Target: Basically anyone who knows who Michael Phelps is. The spot is funny because it plays on the human truth that no one likes slow technology. Even though a viewer might be a Mac user, they still get the joke and have an affinity for Intel. 

Insight: Intel capitalized on this historic moment that went viral in minutes. The #PhelpsFace meme was shared millions of times during the Rio Olympics and is still shared today. The ad was inspired by a real-life Olympics moment. CMO of Intel saw Phelps watching race footage on an older computer and saw a creative movement to make a campaign out of it. 

Michael Phelps and Jim Parsons are on set shooting the latest ads with Intel. The collaboration with Michael Phelps represents the latest evolution in Intel’s integrated marketing campaign with Jim Parsons that showcases better experiences found on new Intel-powered PCs. (Credit: Intel Corporation)

Brand Idea/ Positioning: Intel is fast and so is Michael Phelps, the world’s fastest swimmer. By aligning their products with this belief, Intel solidifies it’s brand message of being fast. Intel is proving that it can be part of a cultural moment. By capitalizing on this moment and growing it even further, Intel can reach even those viewers outside the Olympics. 

Objective: Intel wants you and Michael Phelps to Experience Amazing. After launching the Experience Amazing campaign, Intel won Adweek’s 2016 Brand Genius award, meaning that Intel was able to reposition itself to be more than a tech company. The campaign’s main objective is to connect technology with the experience it delivers, which is fast!


Strengths: The ad is hilarious. As a viewer of the 2016 Olympics, I found the #PhelpsFace meme to be hilarious and relevant. Intel was able to get Phelps to make fun of himself and participate in the spot. I have to say his replication of the face is spot on. Anyone who has ever dealt with slow tech has made the #PhelpsFace which makes the Ad very relatable on a simple level. 

Weaknesses: This Ad doesn’t create extreme emotions or any sort of social change. Rather it’s a funny play on a cultural moment. While the Ad is funny and relevant, the content can’t live much longer. People will get tired of seeing the meme and disregard any brand messaging. I think moving forward Intel can play on future cultural moments to come. 


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