IOC Rewards TBWA/C/D’s Gaming Spirit

In its winning pitch for the International Olympic Committee’s $150 million account, TBWA Worldwide used stories about Olympic athletes such as Jesse Owens and the Jamaican bobsled team to capture the “inner spirit” of the Games.
“We didn’t want it to be another trumpet-blaring ‘Ode to the Olympics,'” explained TBWA Worldwide chairman and chief creative officer Lee Clow. “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 the youth market, and 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, the agency “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.”
Young & Rubicam was the other finalist in a review that began last year with 20 agencies. TBWA’s 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, but added the IOC had heard interesting ideas for radio, print and billboards.
TBWA declined to comment on the tagline or details of the work. The agency used a few different tags in its pitch, sources said. Y&R used the theme “Be Olympic,” said sources.
TBWA Worldwide’s pitch was led by Clow and global chief executive officer Michael Greenlees, along with creative director Rob Siltanen in Los Angeles. TBWA’s offices in London, Paris, Sydney and Johannesburg, South Africa, also aided the cause.
–with Andrew McMains