TBWA Victorious in $150 Mil. Olympic Race

Agency Avoided ‘Trumpet-Blaring’ in Strategy That Beat Y&R
NEW YORK–In its winning pitch for the International Olympic Committee’s $150 million ad account, TBWA Worldwide used stories about Olympic athletes such as Jesse Owens and the Jamaican bobsled team to invoke the “inner spirit” of the Games.
TBWA bested Young & Rubicam in a review that began late last year with 20 shops.
“We didn’t want it to be another trumpet-blaring ode to the Olympics,” said TBWA Worldwide chairman and chief creative officer Lee Clow of his agency’s pitch idea. “We wanted it to have a contemporary sensibility. The Olympics are a celebration of youth. We want to give the Olympics back to the people.”
TBWA’s global pitch team also suggested the IOC target youth, via the Internet in particular. The agency had “very interesting thoughts about the beloved Internet and marketing the Olympics into the future,” said Michael Payne, the IOC’s director of marketing.
Overall, TBWA “understood why the Olympics appeal to all age groups, social groups, both sexes,” Payne said. What’s more, the agency developed “a concept or campaign that could work effectively across all 200 countries that broadcast the Games.”
The first work–focusing on next summer’s Games–is expected to break in early 2000, Payne said. “The initial campaign will focus on Sydney, [Australia], but we are already considering how that will evolve into Salt Lake City [in winter 2002] and beyond,” he said.
The primary focus throughout will be television, Payne said. He added that the IOC had heard interesting ideas for radio, print and billboards.
TBWA declined comment on the tagline or details of the work. The agency used a few different lines in its pitch, sources said.
Y&R used the theme “Be Olympic,” said sources. The agency, however, declined to comment.
TBWA’s pitch was led by Clow and global chief executive Michael Greenlees, along with cd Rob Siltanen in Playa del Rey, Calif. TBWA in London, Paris, Sydney and Johannesburg, South Africa, also participated.
–with Michael McCarthy