Kurt Verlin
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Uplifting Toyota Ad May Be the Only Redeeming Quality of NBC’s Terrible Olympic Games Coverage

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Girl holds medal winner's hand in Toyota ad

NBC has received a lot of attention in the last week and a half because of the 2016 Rio Olympics; not only because the network is the only one in the United States covering the games, but also because the coverage is pre-packaged, delayed, and simply awful.

If you want to know how an athlete performed in an event, you can find updates and news on the web long before NBC will show it, and when coverage does begin, you have to sit through hours of fake drama and scripted suspense until late in the night before you can finally see your athlete in action—or not, because NBC assumes its viewers only care about Michael Phelps and Simone Biles and coverage for other athletes or even other sports is woeful.

For instance, last Thursday, American Kayla Harrison made judo history with another gold medal but there was no mention of her victory, so even if you don’t care at all about non-Americans, NBC’s coverage might still fall short. If you do care about non-American teams and athletes, don’t even bother unless it’s Usain Bolt.

But it’s not just the constant forced narratives or the hugely disproportional focus on swimming and gymnastics. The UK might have exited Europe, but at least it still knows how to do proper TV, as the BBC has been broadcasting constant live coverage with absolutely no ads. Meanwhile, if you’ve been watching the Olympics on NBC, odds are you’ve actually been watching ads about half of the time, because NBC needs to recoup its losses after paying nearly $1.3 billion for the right to get us crappy coverage.

Still, there is a silver lining: not all the ads are bad. Specifically, a new 60-second Toyota spot that launched during NBC’s Olympic Opening Ceremonies broadcast was a heartwarming reminder of what it means for nations from around the world to come and participate in the games together regardless of their relationships with each other, and even the NBC can’t take that away from us.

Titled “Stand Together,” the ad shows people from all over the world joining hands and upholding the spirit of friendship and fair play, including skydivers, Olympic Games attendees and Toyota athletes.

As part of the new campaign, Toyota will donate $20 to United Way, up to $250,000, for every person who creates a video of people joining hands and shares it using the #LetsJoinHands hashtag. The automaker will also mix content submitted by users into pre-roll and social videos.

The spot was 60 seconds long on air but you can view the online-only, extended cut 90-second version from Toyota’s official YouTube channel below—yes, even when it comes to ads, NBC still falls short.