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London, Ont., takes a star turn in Nike’s ambush Olympic ad

A Nike Swoosh.

RICK BOWMER/AP

Each Olympic Games, top sponsors shell out millions to take their marketing plans higher, faster, stronger – and ambush advertisers use wily tactics to go loftier, quicker, mightier.

Nike appears to be trying to unofficially cash in on some of the London spirit: its new campaign, Find Your Greatness, includes an ad that features regular athletes engaging in sports at non-U.K. locations called London around the world – from Ohio to Jamaica, and South Africa to Ontario.

In the spot, people bike on the dirt streets of London, Nigeria, and work out at "London Gym." And Canada is brought into the action too – there are shots of runners pounding the London, Ont. pavement during the city's marathon.

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It's a typical advertising strategy during Olympics time, as sponsors spend heavily for an official association to the Games -- and others try for a free ride, skirting the IOC's rules to imply a link without paying to be a sponsor. Nike's competitor Adidas is the official sportswear partner for London 2012 -- and released an ad of its own this week, featuring footballer David Beckham, that is getting some attention.

The organizers of London's Forest City Road Races were only too happy for the exposure conferred on them by the not-quite Olympic spot.

The race director tweeted the news on Wednesday and placed the Nike ad on its official website.

Nike also released an extra 17-second video as part of the online "Find Your Greatness" series featuring a man dressed in a flower costume running the Ontario race.

"Greatness is not in one special place," the commercial's cheeky voice-over contends. "...Greatness is wherever somebody is trying to find it."

Apparently, so is an advertising opportunity.

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