SBJ/January 14-20, 2013/Olympics

USOC hires M&C Saatchi for PR work

The U.S. Olympic Committee named M&C Saatchi its first public relations agency of record.

M&C Saatchi beat out Weber Shandwick, Ketchum and Edelman’s Matter agency, which all vied for the job in a formal pitch process held late last year. The USOC had worked with all of the agencies before on projects.

“All of them brought really good proposals and strong teams,” said USOC Chief Communications Officer Patrick Sandusky. “M&C Saatchi really did their research. They seemed to know the Olympic space. We think they can really help us.”

In years past, the USOC worked with several public relations agents on a project-by-project basis, but Sandusky decided that he wanted to hire a single agency to work with in the future. He hopes that by doing so the organization can skip the learning process that each agency worked through on projects in the past and have a single partner that’s proactive in promoting the USOC.

Sandusky said the USOC’s budget for public relations support won’t change. It spent $79,739 on advertising and promotion in 2011, according to its most recent tax filings.

M&C Saatchi will work on major USOC events like the organization’s 100-day-out celebration for the 2014 Sochi Games and its 2014 Olympics media summit. It also will be tasked with promoting the USOC’s national fundraising efforts and publicizing how Americans can make donations that help send Team USA athletes to the Olympics.

Sandra Carreon-John, M&C Saatchi’s senior vice president, and Rich Barker, the agency’s vice president, will lead the USOC business. Carreon-John has been with the agency for five years and previously worked in communications at MSG Sports, ESPN and the NHL. Barker recently relocated from the agency’s London office to New York.

The USOC last year worked with M&C Saatchi’s London office on its “Thank You Britain” campaign, which was designed to introduce Team USA athletes to the British media and public prior to the London Games. Sandusky credited the work the agency did with helping make Team USA a “second home team” in London.

M&C Saatchi has 20 public relations employees in New York. It also has staff in London, Sydney, Berlin and South Africa. The agency’s New York office works in sports with Reebok, Ugg Australia, CCM and Castrol.

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