WPP's Voluntarily United Wins IOC Creative Assignment

Olympic Committee Expected to Spend $120 Mil in Media for Beijing Games

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LONDON (AdAge.com) -- WPP Group's Voluntarily United Group of Creative Agencies has won the creative assignment to promote the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games after a fierce competitive pitch against Havas and Publicis Groupe's Leo Burnett and Saatchi & Saatchi.
United's Spanish agency, Senora Rushmore, came up with the big idea.
United's Spanish agency, Senora Rushmore, came up with the big idea.

Boost for United
The account carries an estimated $120 million in media spending. The win represents a much-needed boost for the United brand, which appeared to be on a downward spiral when it closed its London office earlier this month.

Laurence Mellman, the network's chief operating officer, said, "Guess what -- it works. One swallow doesn't make a summer, but its good news and it was a real test. We won on a creative idea, and that's what we're all about."

United's Spanish agency, Senora Rushmore, came up with the big idea and worked with the network's Seattle (Cole & Weber) and Oslo (BTS) offices on the pitch. United's chairman, Andy Berlin, led the pitch, which took place at the IOC headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, in March.

International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge in a statement said, "Engaging the youth audience in both the Olympic Games and values is essential to ensuring the future of the Olympic Movement. The promotional campaign is an important part of a wider approach by the IOC to communicate, engage and inspire a new generation of Olympic fans and participants."

Global integrated campaign
United will create a global integrated campaign using TV, online, viral, experiential and online activities. The work will launch at the end of this year in preparation for the games, which take place in summer 2008.

The IOC's marketing commission chairman, Gerhard Heiberg, in a statement said, "[We were] impressed by United's ideas and their understanding of and passion for the Olympic values. With this campaign, we aim to relevantly communicate the meaning of the games to young people around the world. We are confident United will provide us with a distinctive, meaningful and fresh approach to developing such a campaign."
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