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Volume 20 No. 42
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Got Cap? USA Water Polo's campaign does

When USA Water Polo chief marketer Jennifer Rottenberg decided to develop an advertising campaign before the 2012 London Games, she came back time and again to the sport’s most distinguishing feature: its cap.

The swim cap with the plastic ear muffs worn by water polo players differentiates them from every other Olympian. For that reason, Rottenberg and USA Water Polo made the cap the centerpiece of the national governing body’s first national ad campaign.

Annalaina Marks is featured in one ad.
The campaign, which uses the tag line “I Am Water Polo,” features recording artists, actors, astronauts, models, chefs and others wearing their own clothes and sporting a water polo cap. Among those featured are recording artist Sean Paul; actor Ted McGinley, who was on “Married … With Children”; WNBA all-star Jayne Appel; and Jeff Ma, co-founder of Citizen Sports. The people featured have all played the game at some point in their lives.

The photographs of each person were shot by Michael Larsen, a celebrity photographer whose images appear in USA Weekend. The images of Paul, McGinley and others are simple and reminiscent of the “Got Milk” campaign. The ads also encourage people to visit

The print ads are set to appear in publications like Sports Illustrated, Women’s Health, Men’s Fitness and Us Weekly in 2012. Banner ads will appear online on sites like ESPNW, the company’s women’s sports website, starting next year, as well.

The ads are being complemented by a Facebook campaign that encourages fans of USA Water Polo to submit their own photos wearing water polo caps.

“We want to create excitement within the community and have people kind of one up each other,” Rottenberg said. “We want someone to say, ‘I took a photo of myself in an airplane at 30,000 feet,’ and then have someone else say, ‘Oh yeah, well I took a photo in my cap at Joshua Tree.’”

USA Water Polo did not hire an agency for the campaign and spent only $5,000 to develop the campaign.

USA Water Polo isn’t using the campaign to sign up new members or generate donations. Rottenberg said it is designed to raise awareness of the sport leading up to the London Games.

“We want people to next summer say, ‘When is the water polo game on?’” Rottenberg said. “We want people jumping on the bandwagon.”