SBJ/February 4-10, 2013/Olympics

Road to Sochi includes fan tour, TV coverage

The U.S. Olympic Committee this week will launch its second, multi-dimensional marketing campaign ahead of an Olympic Games.

The Road to Sochi initiative, which follows the successful Road to London campaign, includes a special telecast of winter sports on NBC Sports Network and Universal Sports, a series of digital stories and videos highlighting winter athletes, and a mobile fan festival that will travel to 15 to 20 markets over the next year.

“Our research suggests that more people are interested in tuning in to the Sochi Games than were planning to tune in for London,” said John Pierce, the USOC’s managing director of marketing services. “The Road to Sochi is to prime the pump for the Winter Games.”

The effort kicks off this week with three consecutive days of Olympic-themed segments on NBC’s “Today” show. Aerial skiers will perform, curlers will demonstrate how to play their sport, and freeskiers will ride
Renderings show how the Road to Sochi tour stop will be laid out and one of its interactive features.
Images by: USOC (2)
rails outside of Rockefeller Center.

The USOC will complement the TV broadcast with a series of digital initiatives, including live Facebook chats with athletes, giveaways on Twitter, and new videos and photos on TeamUSA.org. The organization plans to continue to update its website with features on athletes, sports and Sochi, which U.S. Olympic fans know less about than the last winter host city, Vancouver.

For the first time, the USOC’s “Road to” an Olympic Games will include sports coverage on TV. The organization struck a joint-venture agreement with NBC and Universal Sports that will see 20 hours of same-day coverage from a luge World Cup (Feb. 8-10), the Biathlon World Championship (Feb. 9-12) and the Curling National Championship (Feb. 15-16).

“This is a same-day airing, and outside of the Olympic Games, that’s never happened before for a lot of these sports,” Pierce said.

Sponsors weigh in on Sochi’s marketing opportunities

The USOC is in discussions with sponsors about supporting the “Road to Sochi” program. Hilton is the only one to sign on to support it to date, but Pierce hopes to add four or five more sponsors. That support can be negotiated into a renewal agreement, by devoting part of committed activation spending to it, or come after making an incremental spend against it, as Hilton did.

Participating sponsors will be featured in the USOC’s mobile fan tour, which will visit 15 to 20 markets. The tour will go to the Olympic trials for speedskating and events like the U.S. Figure Skating Championships. It also will visit warm weather cities.

The mobile fan tour leading up to the London Games ended once the Olympics began, but this time the USOC plans to keep the tour going after the Olympic cauldron has been lit in Sochi.

“Just because the staff goes to London doesn’t mean the fan tour has to stop,” Pierce said. “It gives us a chance to drive ratings, engage fans and allow them to participate, particularly when we’re in Russia. It also gives our sponsors something to be involved in.”

The highlight of the Road to Sochi will be the USOC’s 100-days-out celebration in New York. It will be the organization’s third celebration, and like past ones, it will feature sponsors, Olympians and booths where fans can learn more about Winter Olympic sports.

Pierce said this year’s 100-days-out event falls on Oct. 29. The USOC will choose a location after determining the scope of what it will do. It held the Road to London 100-days-out celebration in Times Square.

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