- Thursday, Jul. 19, 2012
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- LOS ANGELES
Akin to the training and discipline that goes into an athlete reaching the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, so too does work, preparation and experience over the years lay the foundation for an ambitious advertising campaign tied to those same Games.
This parallel is clearly evident in Procter & Gamble's marketing/advertising initiative for the upcoming Olympics, which spans 30-plus brands, more than 70 countries and sponsorship of some 150 global athletes. For example, three-and-a-half years ago, Jerry Rice's title at Procter & Gamble changed from sr. advertising production manager to sr. integrated production manager, a new moniker reflecting an expansion of his responsibilities given the emergence of different content forms and varied media platforms. Later for the 2010 Winter Games, Rice was integrally involved in P&G's launch of the "Thank you, Mom" campaign which struck a responsive chord with broadcast and online audiences, exhibiting legs which will be in full sprint during the course of this year's Summer Games. Furthermore back in mid-December 2009 while on a ski slope in Salt Lake City where shooting of content for the Winter Games in Vancouver, B.C., had begun, Rice found himself working concurrently on that fare as well a promising Old Spice concept which became the breakthrough, now iconic "The Man Your Man Could Smell Like" spot.
Old Spice, recalled Rice, carried a key lesson, showcasing what he describes as his "great working relationship with Wieden+Kennedy. They're the ones who brought me into and helped me to fully understand the power of viral-type advertising...From that [and earlier work for Old Spice] we learned that we needed to put ideas out there and let viewers make them their own."
Indeed, P&G has done just that with its initial corporate 2012 Summer Olympics push. The two-minute film Best Job, directed by Oscar-nominated Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu of Anonymous Content for W+K, Portland, Ore., premiered exclusively online to P&G Facebook fans in April, with shorter, localized spot versions of the piece debuting on TV worldwide in May. Best Job showed us different moms around the world getting their youngsters up in the early a.m. for training in their respective sports and follows each through the years until their moments of competitive Olympics glory. A supered message reads, "The hardest job in the world is the best job in the world. Thank you, Mom."
This tug-at-the-heartstrings anthem film was shot on four continents and features local actors and athletes from each location--London, Rio de Janeiro, Los Angeles and Beijing.
P&G also concurrently rolled out the "Thank You Mom" app that allows people to thank their own moms by uploading personalized content in the form of a video, still image with caption or text-based message. Users are then able to encourage friends and family to do the same, spreading the word to thank and celebrate moms.
The follow-up spot, "Kids"--directed by Daniel Kleinman via Epoch Films--went online earlier this month and is slated to make its TV debut on July 27 during the opening ceremony of the Summer Games in London. "Kids" shows us Olympic athletes at various venues and in various activities--at a press conference, in the locker room, in competition--except the twist is that all are children. We see a kid runner at the starting blocks, another youngster on a high diving board, two others in the boxing ring, a girl gymnast on the balance beam, a lad about to lift a hefty barbell that dwarfs him in size. At the end, we see a mom in the stands, nervous, anxious yet proud. A supered message reads, "To their Moms, they'll always be kids." An end tag carries the slogan, "P&G, Proud Sponsor of Moms."
More "Mom"-oriented corporate work will be unveiled during the course of the Summer Games in London, providing a unifying theme under which many of P&G's brands can come together. At the same time, these brands ranging from Tide to Duracell, Gillette, Pantene and Pampers will unfurl their own Olympic initiatives via various agencies.
A prime online component for P&G's overall "Moms" campaign will be the debut of "mom-u-mentaries" during the Summer Games, shorts of varying lengths profiling mothers of Olympic athletes. Rice estimates that there are some 20 nonscripted shorts helmed by different documentary filmmakers, with a number of the films out of W+K and others from digital agency ZiZo.
Rice noted that W+K and P&G came up with the mom-u-mentary concept back during the 2010 Winter Olympics but time and money constraints weren't conducive to a launch back then. He recollected that P&G didn't get to work in earnest on the 2010 Winter Olympics until Oct. '09, meaning there were higher priorities than the mom-u-mentaries. "Still, though, we saw what a success the Winter Games campaign was, how much it affected people in the U.S. and worldwide," related Rice. "We knew it would be worth the effort and investment to expand the content well beyond commercials, to get up close and personal with relevant stories about the moms and the sacrifices they make--which everybody can relate to. You don't need to be a parent to a world-class athlete to understand and have warm, positive feelings about those everyday sacrifices."
Indeed that 2010 Winter Olympics initiative laid the groundwork for what will unfold at the Summer Games in London for P&G. That original campaign two years ago from W+K was inspired and inspiring, said Rice. Rather than heralding a company's sponsorship of the Winter Games in Vancouver, the decision was made to sponsor the moms of Team USA athletes. A Pampers spot, for example, noted that "before they [American athletes] were wearing Gold, Silver or Bronze, they were wearing diapers...Thank you, Mom."
Spots drove traffic to ThankYouMom.com where people could express appreciation for their mothers.
P&G also built a center in Vancouver for Olympic family members to stay at during the Games--and paid for every Team USA Mom to attend the Olympics. This created a village of goodwill for Team USA family members, and this positive spirit was evident in the overall campaign which generated during the 17 days of the Games some 50,000 tweets about the work, 400,000 new Facebook friends, and an estimated $130 million in incremental sales of P&G products.
"I remember," said Rice, "a meeting the P&G team had in November  in New York City with Dick Ebersol who was running NBC Sports. We showed him our campaign concepts and he called it the best Olympic advertising he had ever seen, which is high praise coming from someone who's been through so many Olympics...We knew we had something special, something that would have staying power."
That staying power is rooted in an insight and a truth, observed Rice. The insight is reflected simply in what happens when a young athlete wins an Olympic medal, particularly a Gold Medal. "The first thing they do is look up into the stands for Mom--even moreso than for their coach," said Rice.
As for the campaign's honesty, Rice related, "Not one product that P&G sells is going to improve anyone's athletic performance. But the products we make help make life a little bit easier for Mom, that special person who is most responsible for getting those young athletes to this point--giving birth to them, taking them to practices, nourishing them, supporting them whether they did well or poorly."
Providing support and expertise are also prime responsibilities for Rice who is one of seven integrated production managers P&G has in North America. He describes his role as being that of an in-house production expert who helps the brands understand the technicalities of production, what production value adds to communications so that brand managers come to regard the money spent as an investment rather than an expense.
A P&G veteran, Rice has an extensive ad agency pedigree that spans his producing for such N.Y. shops as Grey, Ted Bates, Y&R and NW Ayer. "My experience in commercial production helps our brand managers understand the process. I work with the agency. I approve the budgets. I get a vote on selecting directors. I'm very familiar with the directing talent in the marketplace. We competitively bid everything but don't always award to the lowest price. Often it comes down to the person with the best treatment. I help the brand managers understand some of the nuances in those treatments."
The Responsibility Project
Liberty Mutual will unveil its new national marketing campaign, "Humans," with a handful of new spots airing in primetime media slots during Summer Olympics coverage on NBC. These ads from Hill Holliday, Boston, will be supported by short vignettes of former Olympic greats that celebrate human achievement.
Meanwhile, supplementing this broadcast push--the third consecutive Olympic Games for Liberty Mutual on NBC--are three short online films in the insurance company's The Responsibility Project series directed by Lucy Walker of Supply & Demand Integrated. Walker--whose Waste Land was nominated for a Best Feature Documentary Oscar in 2011, followed by The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom which earned an Oscar nom for Best Documentary Short this year--directed three Responsibility Project shorts featuring athletes from different countries who aspire to compete in the 2012 Summer Olympics. She also helmed a fourth film, for next month's Paralympics in London, centering on Anjali Forbes-Pratt, an American wheelchair racer.
The mini-documentaries underscore the growing quality of online content as well as the growing attention being paid by marketers and audiences to platforms beyond broadcast. This has led to this year's Summer Games being dubbed by some as "the first digital Olympics," a banner largely earned by the increased availability of Games programming and live coverage on computers and hand-held/mobile devices on a 24/7 basis.
The first Liberty Mutual short paints an intimate portrait of equestrian Mary King who's won Silver (in Athens) and Bronze (in Beijing), and is now looking to score the elusive Gold Medal for the U.K. This documentary shows the perils of horse jumping, with footage of an accident earlier in King's career and the anguish she still feels for having that horse mercy killed. You see the special bond and rapport she develops with the horses in her stable, all the while maintaining her responsibilities as a wife and mother. Now in her 50s, King remains a world-class athlete in that rare sport where men and women are on equal footing as competitors.
Next to debut on The Responsibility Project site and elsewhere virally was a film featuring Mongolian archers Jantsan Gantugs and Bishindee Urantugalag. This piece also profiles the culture of Mongolia, one in which archery is in people's blood. A Mongolian voice (translated into English via subtitles) relates, "From 8 years young to 80 years old, we shoot," noting that Genghis Khan conquered half the world with the bow and arrow. Being in a culture where archery is an integral part of history and society only serves to amplify the pressures and responsibilities inherent in representing Mongolia at the Summer Games.
The "Responsibility" theme figures even more poignantly in the third film to debut, Walker's deft portrayal of Brazilian rower Ailson Eraclito de Silva, generally regarded as the best in his country. However, an unexpected twist in his story comes when he exceeds the weight requirement and doesn't qualify for the Olympic team. In this case, de Silva takes the responsibility for failing to make the 2012 London Games, in turn strengthening his resolve to compete in the 2016 Olympics. Walker gives us insight into that resolve as we get a taste of de Silva's humble beginnings, his father abandoning the family early on, and his mother working hard to support him and his siblings. De Silva has since endeavored to pay his mom back, buying her a home, and starting a family of his own, vowing to give his child what he lacked, "the love of a father."
Michael Dyer, co-director of Hill Holliday's content department and creative director for the agency on The Responsibility Project, recalled the creative genesis for the Walker-directed documentary shorts. "Media outlets have gotten us accustomed to stories of American Olympic athletes. They're great narratives and I'm not taking anything away from them. But we decided to focus on our 'Responsibility' theme in a different manner, making it more global, casting the net further and wider for interesting athletes in the U.S. and internationally, to dig into what responsibility means to these athletes--for them, their families, their countries, the stresses involved, delving more into the pursuit rather than the actual competition. We weren't entirely sure what stories we were going to get or go after. There are thousands of athletes who dedicate their lives to the Olympics pursuit while managing their lives, jobs and families--and the vast majority never make it to the Games. We thought their stories would be interesting--that was the genesis creatively and strategically behind these latest 'Responsibility' films."
Dyer recalled being in Detroit when he received a phone call from Hill Holliday co-director of content colleague John Dukakis about the revelation that the Brazilian rower wasn't going to make his country's Olympic theme. "John was worried that we didn't have a story but we both right then immediately realized that we had Lucy [Walker] there. There are very few documentary makers other than Lucy whom we could have had confidence in at that time relative to the brand, the story, and the ability to handle it delicately, truthfully and insightfully. With Lucy, we simply knew the best course of action was to let her 'go with the story,' which she did in amazing fashion."
Dyer is looking to broaden exposure for the documentary shorts beyond The Responsibility Project site and other online venues. He hopes to get the shorts on the film festival circuit. In fact, SHOOT first saw two of the shorts during a sneak preview at the Los Angeles Film Festival in June. Immediately after those films were screened, SHOOT caught up with Walker who praised Hill Holliday for giving her the freedom to be a documentarian, to choose the athletes whom she regarded as the best subjects for the films. "They asked me who my favorites were from the field we researched and had it narrowed down to," she related. "The agency and the client supported my choices and we went out to do justice to their stories."
As for the unexpected twist in the Brazilian rower's story, Walker said, "You can't script something like that. It was a total surprise and gave the 'Responsibility' theme a whole new dimension we hadn't planned on. That's the beauty of documentary filmmaking."
Goodby for TD Ameritrade
The TD Ameritrade campaign for the Summer Olympics sheds light on select athletes--like The Responsibility Project shorts--and delves into the people behind them who provided invaluable support, offering an acknowledgement cut from the same cloth as P&G's "Moms" initiative.
Created by Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, the TD Ameritrade commercials--one featuring U.S. swimmer Natalie Coughlin, another starring fencer Mariel Zagunis, one profiling track star David Oliver and another for gymnast Jonathan Horton--aired briefly around the time of the U.S. Olympic Committee's "100 Days Out" (from the Summer Games) event in April. The spots returned to television on July 9 and will be part of a ramped up media buy that begins on NBC's opening night ceremony coverage in London on July 27.
The commercials and longer form videos for these four athletes (as well as an additional video profiling Olympic diver David Boudia) are accessible on the TD Ameritrade YouTube page, offering close-up looks at the Olympians, dating back to their childhoods. We hear, for example, about Horton at the age of four climbing to touch the ceiling--of a department store, which led his parents to introduce him to gymnastics.
Anders Gustafsson, creative director at Goodby, observed, "Because these athletes are so young, we knew there had to be tons of footage of them as toddlers and kids. All the spots are based on archival footage. This generation has the most filmed Olympians ever."
Voiced over by Matt Damon, the spots--directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris (Dayton/Faris) of Bob Industries--drive viewers to visit TD Ameritrade's tailored YouTube page for exclusive content and to Tweet messages of support to the sponsored athletes. Though she declined to publicly cite numbers, a Goodby spokesperson said that preliminary Twitter activity has been "healthy," jump started at the "100 Days Out" event in NYC where fans' Tweets of support to athletes were shown on a huge Times Square billboard. With the Olympics push getting underway next week, expectations are that the campaign's hashtag #TweetForTheTeam will see a significant increase in messaging.
The show of support aligns with the TD Ameritrade mantra that people can go a long way with a little help, like the objective guidance provided by the company to help customers pursue and realize financial goals. "Our Olympics campaign concept is simply that everyone, including these athletes, needs a little help along the way," said Gustafsson.
As part of its sponsorship of the U.S. Olympic Team, AT&T this week released a TV commercial that recognizes and salutes the efforts of swimmer Ryan Lochte, showing his commitment which is very much simpatico with the AT&T slogan to "rethink possible."
Titled "Warming Up," the spot opens on Lochte diving into a swimming pool which turns out to be the ocean. Swimming from the U.S. within a lane like those seen in an Olympic competition pool, he affirms, "Luck doesn't get you to the Olympic Games. You can't wish your way onto the podium. You can't buy it or hope for it. It's not enough to dream about it. Luck didn't get me to London. I swam here."
We then finally see him swimming towards the London shore. On his way to that destination, Lochte confronts underwater sea life and other marvels of nature. It's a journey directed by Marie Hyon and Marco Spier of Psyop/Smuggler, and shot by cinematographer Trent Opaloch (District 9) and underwater DP Pete Romano for BBDO New York.
Grant Smith, sr. creative director at BBDO NY, related, "Going in, we thought we could tell this epic story through great cinematography or by going for something more along the lines of an underwater adventure with sea creatures. Marie and Marco instead went the route of 'why can't we do both?' Marie and Marco brought a sense of vision, scope, and the creative energy and willingness to do whatever it took to realize Ryan's journey."
Big rigs, a crane on a barge, and other over-sized resources were deployed. And when Lochte is seen swimming towards London, he was actually stroking his way towards Miami. "We swapped London for Miami with a matte painting of London and a bit of animation at the end," said Smith. "There were all kinds of obstacles along the way but Marie and Marco met them head on."
Among the obstacles were the logistics of getting enough camera time with Lochte who was on a tight schedule, dealing with temperamental weather, and gaining access to the proper pool space in Gainsville, Fla., where he trained. "It was the script that inspired us to work through everything," said Smith. "Our team of Hunter Fine [associate creative director/art director] and Peter Albores [creative director/copywriter] came up with a great script that we pushed hard to do justice to."
Hand in hand with the aforementioned digital Olympics moniker is the declaration in many circles that this will be "the first social Games." In that vein, MediaCom Sport, a specialist division of media investment, planning and buying firm MediaCom (part of the WPP family of shops), has devised a social media tracker focused on the Summer Games.
Rory Maxwell, associate director of MediaCom Sport, said that the company has developed an algorithm which will track activity on Twitter in the U.K. starting next week and throughout the duration of the Games relative to the top 25 Olympic sponsors. There will be daily reports and weekly analyses of Twitter activity on campaigns, sponsors, Olympic themes and related positive and negative sentiments expressed. From this a score will be assigned to each sponsor based on a balance of quantitative and qualitative results. For example, a sponsor with high volume but largely negative feedback would rank lower than one with moderate or no volume and minimal feedback. MediaCom Sport decided to focus its tracker on Twitter given its real-time dynamic and immediacy.
MediaCom Sport sees its social media tracker as an investment, providing insights, demonstrating the company's capabilities in the social media space, perhaps generating some business, but at the very least increasing MediaCom Sport's visibility and opening up dialogue as well as different possibilities in the sports sponsorship/social media arena.
"Social media for the Olympics involve not just sponsors and fans," said Maxwell. "There's enormous Twitter activity by the athletes themselves--but they are under strict guidelines over what they can and can't say, which is the source of some debate here in the U.K. The so-called 'social Games' have arrived. Twitter and Facebook are so much bigger than they were in 2008 during the Olympics in Beijing. Social media has become a crucial space for brands and sponsors. You lose consumer reach by not having a voice in this space. Our social media tracker is a tool that may generate important lessons and build our expertise--at the minimum it will show that this is an increasingly important area in which brands must have detailed strategy and goals."
Maxwell conjectured that down the road, the social media tracker could expand to include other countries and the impact of ambush marketing on official sponsors.