University of Southern California long snapper Jake Olson has a story that’s truly unique to college football. He had a dream like thousands of young boys across the country: play for his favorite college football team. But unlike most kids, Olson faced an obstacle. He lost his vision to cancer at the age of 12.
That didn’t stop Olson from achieving his dream.
Olson took the field for USC in September of 2017 to snap the ball for the first time in a 49-31 win against Western Michigan. Dream: achieved.
His story caught the attention of Proctor & Gamble, which tapped Olson as the perfect fit for the latest iteration of Head & Shoulders’ “Headstrong” campaign.
“They brought the message to me that they’re doing this ‘Headstrong’ campaign for people who decided to push through and persevere in life,” explained Olson about what drew him to a partnership with Head & Shoulders. “It’s something I want to be a part of. I want to help others be headstrong and something that I love to do is inspire others.”
“He was pretty inspirational to us,” said Janet Fletcher, director, Olympics and sports marketing at P&G. “He rose to the top as someone we wanted to work with.”
P&G worked with ESPN to produce the 90-second spot, which ran on the sports network during the NFL Draft and on digital channels.
The night before the NFL Draft in Nashville, Tenn., the agency The Marketing Arm hosted an event called Chosen, a night of “speed dating” between NFL Draft picks and marketers from companies like Goodyear, Twitch and more. The event allows brands to learn about some of the most most marketable stars, but also educate the players on the rigorous casting process brands go through to sign NFL players as endorsers.
At the event, Olson met with more than a dozen brands to talk about his message. “Like a lot of people I wasn’t dealt the fairest hand of cards, life hit me hard,” Olson said, adding. “At one point, it’s going to hit everyone hard. I’m not a special guy in that sense, but I chose to not let my situation dictate the rest of my life. I had to make that decision to push through and persevere. Anyone can make that decision.”