Saatchi’s Guiding Light

What do Sylvester Stallone, Nelson Mandela, P. Diddy and Saatchi & Saatchi creative director Doug Pippin have in common? They’ve all carried the Olympic torch ahead of the Summer Games in a relay that began June 2 in Greece and will cover five continents before circling back to Athens by the Aug. 13 opening ceremonies.

Pippin, a writer who played a leading role in developing the International Olympic Committee’s “Celebrate humanity” campaign, which broke last month, was handpicked by the IOC for the honor. No wonder he spent part of last week reacquainting himself with the charms of the treadmill. Creaky knees not withstanding, the 53-year-old sports fan was determined to put in a good showing, which meant pratfalls were out of the question. “A lot of things can go wrong,” he explained. “I want to do this with some dignity.”

Pippin was expected to grab the baton late last Saturday afternoon on Central Park West and carry it about four blocks along a stretch that includes the Dakota Building, the former home of John Lennon. Noting this, and the fact that he himself lived in the neighborhood 18 years ago, Pippin was pinching himself that he had such an incredible opportunity. “I’m going to jog it, but I’m going to take my time,” he said. Besides, he was expecting a sizable cheering section, including Saatchi colleagues and his 78-year-old mom, Lois.