Jessie Diggins made history in Pyeongchang earlier this week when she, along with team sprint freestyle partner Kikkan Randall, won the first Olympic gold medal for the U.S. in cross-country skiing.
Diggins’ come-from-behind win inspired some truly epic announcing and also led to her selection as the U.S. flag bearer for Sunday’s closing ceremony.
Fans watching the games stateside may have been surprised to see an ad for NBC’s parent company, Comcast, that starred Diggins and featured footage of the very same historic event immediately after it aired in the U.S.
The win and the gorgeous spot that followed made for a truly seamless blend of sports, pop culture and advertising.
It all happened thanks to the hard work of Comcast and its ad agency, 72andSunny New York.
“Leveraging the partnership between Comcast and NBC, we had the ability to innovate within the traditional Olympic media space by updating our commercials with relevant footage from the games in close to real time,” said 72andSunny New York creative director Nick Kaplan.
He told Adweek how the process worked: “Due to the time difference from Korea to the U.S., we knew Jessie won gold the morning of the race airing on NBC. We jumped into action and spent that day working with the amazing people at NBC and Comcast updating the race footage featured in the commercial. We were able to create a piece that felt truly in the moment and continued the celebration of Jessie’s amazing accomplishment.”
So while the ad technically aired several hours after the event, it felt like a real-time integration to American viewers.
“When I woke up the morning of the race, I happened to turn on the TV and saw her come over the finish line,” said Comcast evp, chief communications officer D’Arcy Rudnay. “It was heartfelt, engaging and exciting, and I thought there has to be a way we could update the ad.”
Of course, no one knew Diggins would pull off the last-minute win. But long before the games started, the campaign had already been built around her inspiring journey from Afton, Minn.
“Our first [Olympics] ad, ‘The Big Farewell,’ which started airing in late November, told the story of a handful of athletes as they are saying goodbye to their families and communities,” said Rudnay, adding that the newer “3 A.M.” spot centers on the true story of how Diggins’ hometown “gets together before she races, when they all go to a cafe and watch her.”
“We crafted a story that would resonate no matter what happened,” Kaplan said. “In the end, the commercial isn’t just a celebration of Jessie and her hometown. It’s also about the pride Comcast takes in bringing the Olympics to hometowns everywhere. … We knew the Comcast-NBC relationship created the opportunity to pivot and tell Olympic stories as they unfolded. It was Jessie’s moment. We’re thrilled we were able to help make it a little more special.”
“Literally as soon as we saw it on Tuesday … everybody on the Comcast and 72andSunny teams went into gear,” Rudnay said, with Kaplan adding, “We were ready, and it turned out better than we could’ve hoped for.”
Agency: 72andSunny New York
Campaign: “3 A.M.in Afton”
EVP and Chief Communications Officer: D’Arcy Rudnay
SVP, Brand Marketing and Communications: Peter Intermaggio
Executive Director, Corporate Brand and Advertising: Kathy Leech
Vice President, Brand Marketing: Dustin Hayes
Sr. Manager, National Sports Marketing: Jess Muir
Director, Digital and Social Communications: Jane Maybury
Sr. Project Manager, Marketing, NBC Sports: Josh Goldman
VP of Branding & Olympics Marketing, NBC Sports: Joseph Lee
Director of Editorial, Creative Services, NBC Sports: Jeremy Quayhackx
Founder, Creative Co-Chair: Glenn Cole
Executive Creative Director/Partner: Bryan Rowles
Executive Creative Director: Justine Armour
Creative Director: Nick Kaplan
Creative Director: Caio Lazzuri
Senior Writer: Whitney Yando
Senior Designer: Harry Bugden
Copywriter: Emily Hovis
Designer: Anne Marie Wonder
Director of Production Lora Schulson
Executive Producer Julia Lafferty
Producer: Katie Schad
Managing Director: James Townsend
Brand Director: Bola Adekoya
Brand Manager: Reed Edwards
Brand Coordinator: Jake Thorndike
Partnerships and Legal Manager: Marissa Burnett
Partnerships and Legal Coordinator: Pamala Billman
Production Company: Furlined
Senior Executive Producer: David Thorne
Head of Production: Ali Goldstone
Producer: Greg Haggart
Editorial Company: Final Cut
Editor: Dan Sherwen
Assistant Editor: Sophie Solomon-O’Connell
Executive Producer: Sarah Roebuck
Producer: Laura Cavanaugh
Visual Effects Company: MPC
VFX Supervisor / VFX Lead Rob Walker
Senior Producer: Matthew Loranger
Producer: Catherine Fischer
Audio Company: Sonic Union
Mixer: David Papa
Producer: Pat Sullivan
Music: “Final Game”
Artist: Randy Newman