Olympic efforts carry direct torch

Crest and Visa aim to score points with consumers’ Olympic spirit by using direct tactics such as CRM and e-mail marketing during this month’s Winter Games.

Visa is running a new version of its “Go World” campaign, which launched for the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics. The effort ties Visa to the athletes and celebrates “human triumph through unique athlete stories,” said Jennifer Bazante, head of global brand marketing at Visa, by e-mail.

The credit card company is operating an interactive e-commerce site at Visa.com/GoWorld. It also has implemented social media outreach on Facebook and YouTube.

The site features a contest to win tickets to the Olympics for life and exclusive merchant offers, including a 10% discount on Olympics gear at www.vancouver2010.com. Visitors are also encouraged to order Olympic-themed prepaid Visa cards. It also contains downloadable videos and photos of athletes, as well as their music playlists. A share-to-social function enables consumers to share the Visa-branded content with friends, as well as widgets for each athlete that can be embedded on other Web sites and social pages.

Visa’s Facebook and YouTube pages have been redesigned for the Olympics. It is running “Go World” banner ads to promote the YouTube page and sponsoring Yahoo Sports’ Winter Games medal counter, athlete pages, mobile coverage and merchant offers.

“With ‘Go World,’ we want to remind viewers of global commonalities and the power of the Olympic Spirit as we celebrate athleticism and human triumph together,” Bazante added. “The aim of Go World is to drive preference for and usage of Visa products worldwide.”

Procter & Gamble’s Crest, which is collecting consumer e-mail data as part of its efforts, has launched a site for the games.

Thankyoumom.com features photos, videos and blogs of Olympic athletes’ mothers. In addition, visitors can e-mail an Olympic mom a message and download coupons for various P&G products. Consumers can opt in for an e-mail with a memento of their message.

Crest is also using images of Olympic athletes on a microsite to promote toothpaste and healthy living. Using the tagline “Brush like a champion with Crest and Oral-B Health,” the microsite contains information about US athletes, such as snowboarder Seth Wescott and ice hockey player Julie Chu, and their personal oral hygiene habits.

In Vancouver, P&G is sponsoring a photo studio, where visitors can pose as an Olympic athlete with a Vancouver background. They can upload the photo to a digital mosaic, located on the microsite, by entering their e-mail address.

Meanwhile, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) launched a campaign in October to get fans excited for the Winter Games by using customer-engagement techniques. Developed by Cole & Weber United, the initiative uses YouTube and a microsite to challenge users to compete in “The Best of Us Challenge.” Consumers are encouraged to upload videos of themselves meeting various athletic challenges. Customers that meet or beat the challenges are eligible for prizes, including video games, posters and t-shirts. One person wins a trip to Singapore for the 2010 Youth Olympic Games.

The Olympic Committee sites contain videos of Olympic athletes showing off their unusual talent. One depicts Lindsey Jacobellis, a US snowboarder, hula-hooping for 30 seconds.

Britt Peterson, partner and director of business development at Cole & Weber United, said one of the IOC’s goals is to have an ongoing conversation with young adults ages 12 to 19, even after the games are over. The campaign garners entrants’ e-mail addresses and drives them to the IOC’s Facebook and Twitter accounts.

“Using social media allows the IOC to be where these consumers already are instead of creating a separate community where they’re not as comfortable,” she said.

National health club chain 24 Hour Fitness is running an integrated campaign this month to coincide with its sponsorship of the games. The “We Are All Athletes” effort consists of a campaign Web site, online video, social media, e-mail and direct mail.

The campaign creative features 24 Hour Fitness-sponsored athletes, including snowboarder Gretchen Bleiler, figure skater Rockne Brubaker, speed skater J.R. Celski and paralympic alpine skier Chris Devlin-Young. An online video series, called “J.R.,” documents how Celski recovered from a nearly career-ending accident last September in time to compete in Vancouver.

The initiative will be the latest iteration of 24 Hour Fitness’ existing branding effort featuring Olympians. This year’s edition, focused on six athletes sponsored by the gym chain, highlights the fact that they trained at 24 Hour Fitness in online videos and Tweets.

The chain will regularly update social media pages for each athlete with training stories and competition schedules. It will also distribute e-mails with similar content during the games. The direct mail pieces will feature Olympic content.

“The message to consumers is that if we can help Olympic athletes achieve their goals, we can certainly help them compete to reach their everyday fitness goals,” said Tony Wells, CMO of 24 Hour Fitness.

Wells added that this year’s effort is more integrated than past versions, due to a lack of budget.

“Our marketing budget has been trimmed based on the current economic conditions, so the idea of being more effective and efficient is more important than ever,” he explained.

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