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AT&T's 'Taekwondo' Olympics Push

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NEW YORK AT&T has fashioned a Latino-targeted ad push for the summer as part of a multicultural, multiplatform media buy that showcases Hispanic siblings Steven, Mark and Diana Lopez of the U.S. Olympic Taekwondo Team.

The marketing push via TV, radio, online, digital and direct mail is part of the telco's sponsorship of the U.S. Olympic Team and is the first time that AT&T has developed Olympic-themed messaging aimed at Hispanics. Omnicom's Dieste, Harmel & Partners, Dallas, handled creative duties and WPP's Mediaedge:cia was responsible for media.

The Lopezes of Sugarland, Texas, are known by martial arts aficionados as the "First Family of American Taekwondo." They are the first sibling group to make the U.S. Olympic team in 104 years after U.S. gymnastics brothers Edward, Richard and William Tritschler competed in the 1904 games in St. Louis, per ESPN.com.

The martial arts threesome is coached by older brother, Jean, and holds three of the four slots on the 2008 U.S. Olympic Taekwondo Team, which includes Mark, Diana and Steve, who is a two-time gold medalist (Sydney and Athens) and four-time world champion. The fourth team member is Charlotte Craig.

Three Spanish-language TV spots are out this week and will air through early September as part of a wide-scale buy for the Olympics initiated by AT&T with NBC Universal.

Under the deal, AT&T will serve as the sole telecommunications sponsor of the NBC and Telemundo broadcasts of the summer games. Some English-language versions of the TV spots also are planned; and online banners designed to run during the Olympics are in the works aimed at users via YahooTelemundo.com.

AT&T's ad spending in Hispanic TV reached $15 million through April of this year, totaling $56 million for all of 2007, down from $60 million in 2006, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

Beyond the positioning for the Olympics, the campaign will extend to 22 Hispanic-dominant and emerging Hispanic markets via local Telemundo stations, Univision, TeleFutura, Azteca America, Mega TV and various independent stations.

"We wanted to show the Lopezes interacting together as a family, which is how our [consumer] segment uses technology, and we wanted something fun that would highlight their participation in the Olympics," said Laura Hernandez, AT&T's exective director, diversity marketing. "This allows us to put a family of athletes in our commercials who are pretty inspirational."

The spot "Jumps" features the entire Lopez family, including parents Julio and Ondina, and is a take on the left-to-right footwork that taekwondo athletes use to keep their bodies in motion when they are training (sort of like a runner who jogs in place to keep muscles and joints limber). "During the entire spot the Lopezes are jumping from side-to-side while on the home phone, using the cell phone or chatting online with each other and coordinating a family gathering to watch a movie," Hernandez said.

The spot helps to promote all of AT&T's personal communications options and services, ending with the Lopez parents literally jumping in at the end of the spot to join their children to watch a movie via AT&T's entertainment service. "We hit everything from wireless to broadband to TV," she added.

In the commercial "The Other Lopez," a literal Joe Consumer who also has the last name Lopez is surfing the AT&T Web site and stumbles onto clips of the athletic Lopez family engaged in martial arts training. Throughout the spot, the telco's high speed broadband capabilities are showcased, with the actual Lopez athletes featured on the laptop screen belonging to the other Lopez, who comically attempts to stretch some not-so-limber muscles by doing a leg split (he gets stuck halfway down), power kicking a sofa cushion and karate-chopping an ironing board (his wife walks in and stops the mayhem mid-chop).

A third spot "Sofa" highlights the telco's advanced digital TV service via a setting so three-dimensional that for a family sitting down to watch the clan in a televised competition, "the 100 percent digital picture is so real, it's like being there competing with the Lopezes," Hernandez said.

In the past, AT&T has promoted its association with the U.S. Olympic team in Spanish, but this effort is the first creative by the marketer that integrates Olympic athletes, who happen to be Hispanic, into its Hispanic-targeted messaging.

As talent for the on-air spots, the Lopez clan could be straight out of central casting: U.S. Olympic athletes bound for the 2008 Beijing games, who are the children of Nicaraguan immigrants. "They happen to be Hispanic, they happen to be fluent [in Spanish] and they are a very dynamic family," said Hernandez, whose team "had been looking at opportunities to leverage our Olympic sponsorship."