"One of the attractive things about promoting the U.S. Olympic Team is that everyone -- big sports fans or less enthusiastic ones -- watches. The team is made up of everyday people who do everyday things," said Eric Webber, a GSD&M spokesman.
Second time with USOC
This is the second Olympic-related effort handled by the Austin, Texas, agency. In 1999, it created the nonprofit sports organization's advertising for the 2000 games in Sydney. The work featured former Olympians Carl Lewis and Michelle Kwan and carried the tagline "America's Olympic Team."
But for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City, Utah, Omnicom Group's Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, was the USOC's agency. Comedic spots highlighted American athletes' dedication: Cardboard figures of Olympic competitors, such as snowboarder Trisha Burns and skier Joe Pack, substituted for the athletes in real-life situations. "It's not every four years. It's every day" was the tagline.
The USOC's director of public relations, Cheryl Herbert, said the USOC talked to a number of agencies it had worked with previously about the new effort. Incumbent Goodby declined. "We went back to GSD&M because they do great work and also because of a strong past relationship," Ms. Herbert said.
"We have an outstanding relationship with Goodby. ... However, as a nonprofit organization, we constantly need to re-evaluate our services and vendor relationships," she said. "As we head into an offshore Olympic Games ... we determined that GSD&M was a better fit for both creative reasons and practical purposes."
GSD&M, Ms. Herbert said, was "flexible in working with us" regarding fees: Creative is being done at no cost or at a minimal cost to the USOC. Media is not handled in a traditional pay-for-space model; rather, the USOC negotiates value-in-kind arrangements with media companies that are Olympic sponsors. Time Inc.'s Time and Sports Illustrated, USA Today and cable channel College Sports TV have all donated ad space.
According to Competitive Media Reporting/TNS, the USOC spent approximately $3 million in measured media in 2002. Ms. Herbert put the value of all donated media in the low seven figures.
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Alice Cuneo contributed to this report.