WHAT: A new Olympic ad from Visa, starring a Refugee Olympic Team swimmer as she tells her story.
WHO: Visa, BBDO New York
WHY WE CARE: The stories of the Refugee Olympic Team are likely to place them among the breakout stars at this year’s Games, and it’s hard to imagine a story more compelling than that of Yusra Mardini, whose swimming prowess wasn’t just honed in the pool.
Mardini represented Syria in the 2012 World Swimming Championships, but her home was destroyed in 2015, and she fled the country last August with her sister. But when they tried to get from Turkey to Greece, their boat—which had 17 other people in it—began to sink. Mardini helped tow the boat to safety in the Aegean Sea for three hours until they reached the Greek isle of Lesbos. Now, she’ll be competing against the world's best swimmers—although she’ll be the only one for whom the Olympics are a low-stakes affair compared to her other experiences in the water. The Visa branding on the ad itself is mercifully light—just a quick voiceover from Morgan Freeman announcing that Visa proudly supports Mardini and the rest of Refugee Olympic Team—which is how it should be when the star’s story is so important.