The U.S. Olympic Committee, with the support of insurer Allstate Corp. and Kimberly-Clark Corp.'s Kleenex tissue brand, turns to the Internet to revive its Hall of Fame, an honor that has been moribund since 1992.
Fans can visit the site at www.usolympicteam.com through April 14 to cast votes for a list of finalists compiled by the USOC.
“One of the key drivers to everything we're trying to do is to target content around fans' favorite sports,” said Matt Farrell, associate director of Internet marketing for entertainment properties at the USOC, Colorado Springs, CO.
“The online voting for the Hall of Fame is a perfect tool to encourage fans to rally behind their favorite sport and athletes, and also generate excitement for an event that hasn't been top of mind for the last 12 years,” he said.
The committee will carry this favorite-sport theme through the Athens Olympic Games in August with a soon-to-launch site offering personal content based on fans' best-liked sports.
“Once we know your favorite sport,” Farrell said, “we can be much more relevant from a brand, content and commerce perspective.”
Voting is conducted only online. A separate, private voting site for U.S. Olympians and Paralympians also has been set up.
Before selecting their candidates, voters enter their name, e-mail address, date of birth and favorite sport. They then can check boxes to receive updates on their favorite Olympic sports from usolympicteam.com and offers, discounts and information from longtime Olympic sponsor Allstate and from Kleenex.
In the next step, voters can read a short bio sketch of the candidates and watch a 30-second video vignette on each Olympian and team finalist to help make their selections. The Hall of Fame comprises five categories: individual sport/event; team; Paralympian; veteran; and special contributor.
Participating voters automatically are entered to win one of three VIP trips to Chicago to attend the Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Results are due in May following the close of voting.
Early in the year, a 10-person nominating committee of athletes, previous inductees, historians, media and USOC representatives whittled the list of finalists for the 2004 ballot.
The 19 individual finalists include figure skating's Kristi Yamaguchi, track and field's Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Florence Griffith Joyner, swimming's Matt Biondi and Janet Evans, and gymnast Shannon Miller. Six of these will be inducted.
Only one of six team finalists can get into the Hall of Fame. All female teams, they cover basketball, soccer, gymnastics, ice hockey, track and field and swimming. Teams range from 1976 to 1998.
And one of five Paralympian finalists can get the USOC honor. The candidates include alpine skiing's Diana Golden, track and field's Linda Mastandrea and Dennis Oehler and swimming's John Morgan. The fifth finalist, Randy Snow, competed in basketball, tennis and track and field.
Adrenalin Design Group, Denver, designed the voting process. RealTime Media, Philadelphia, was responsible for the online promotion and voting application.
The only marketing to attract votes comes through sports organizations, coverage from media following respective sports, viral marketing through fans and a 1 1/2-page ad in USA Today the day after the voting was made public.
The Hall of Fame conducted regular annual inductions from its inception in 1983 through 1992. First-year honorees included Muhammad Ali, Jesse Owens, Mark Spitz, Wilma Rudolph, Peggy Fleming and the 1980 “Miracle on Ice” U.S. hockey team.