While some marketers are highlighting big-name Olympians in their campaigns, AT&T is instead focusing on the less-heralded athletes of the Sochi winter Games. The first TV spot, breaking Feb. 3 during "The Today Show," features skeleton racer Noelle Pikus-Pace lifting weights in her home basement, feeding her kids, watching them play soccer, and then later saying good-night via video before she jumps onto her sled for a late-night training run. BBDO, New York, created the "It's Our Time" campaign.
"These aren't made-up stories, these are real stories about sacrifice and determination and how they made it," said Rudy Wilson, AT&T VP-brand management and advertising. "We're showing them in a way not to make people cry, but to inspire people."
"These are the less-famous athletes who do what they have to do in real life, but also train hard. They're athletes trying to make their mark," said David Lubars, BBDO chairman-chief creative officer. "It really is the American experience."
Other athletes who will be featured in the four TV spots are alpine snowboarder Justin Reider; short-track speed skater Alyson Dudek and Paralympic alpine skier Heath Calhoun. In each, some type of AT&T-enabled communications plays a support role.
Support is a key theme running through the campaign. AT&T is asking Americans to show their support for the Winter Olympic athletes by recording "U-S-A" chants. By downloading the #ItsOurTime app, Team U.S.A. supporters can be guided through to create a unique "U-S-A" chant video via Facebook, Twitter or email that can be uploaded to AT&T's custom web site at ItsOurTime.com where it will reside digitally.
A Times Square event on the first day of the Games on Feb. 7 will feature the customized chants on a giant "Wall of Support." AT&T is also considering ways to use the chants further as part of the push. BBDO worked with Tool, New York, on that aspect of the marketing.
"We're creating a cycle so we can create support. Athletes inspire us and Americans show our support, which inspires them," Mr. Wilson said.