Canadian Olympic Committee launches large-scale Sochi campaign

Iconic athlete's remind us #WeAreWinter

Iconic athletes remind us #WeAreWinter

With the Sochi Winter Olympics less than six weeks away, the Canadian Olympic Committee on Tuesday launched what it calls its “largest brand undertaking in its history.”

The campaign is built around emotional videos celebrating the heroic determination of Canada’s Winter Olympic athletes and winter itself—or at least winter’s inextricable place in the Canadian psyche.

“Winter. It knows us better than we know ourselves. It shapes and forges us into who we are and what we can become,” says Canadian hockey hero Steve Yzerman in the voiceover to one spot. “Winter gives us everything and expects us to give it all back. We are Canada. We are winter,” said Yzerman, who is also the executive director of the men’s Olympic hockey team.

Gold medal-winning Olympic skier Jean-Luc Brassard also contributes voice work to the campaign.

The videos were produced from more than 100 hours of footage shot over 16 months by Canadian director and producer Henry Lu. Sixty-second, 30-second and 15-second spots were cut for TV while longer profiles are running online. One of the 60-second spots, “Crossroads,” will debut during the NHL’s Winter Classic hockey game between Toronto and Detroit scheduled for early Wednesday afternoon.

In total, 17 athletes from 10 sports feature in the campaign.

Print ads shot by Chris Gordaneer also began running Tuesday. Proximity was responsible for the campaign creative while OMD handled media planning and buying and North Strategic the PR.

“The essence of this campaign originated from conversations with our athletes who all said the same thing: Winter defines them and defines who we are as a country,” said Derek Kent, chief marketing officer for the Canadian Olympic Committee, in a release. “We wanted Canadians to really get to know our athletes and their remarkably inspiring stories. We are proud of what we have built and that we are putting a brighter spotlight on our national sporting heroes.”

“The idea that our Canadian athletes will be better able to connect with fans and Canadians from coast-to-coast-to-coast in advance of the Sochi Games, is something that we are extremely excited about,” said Christopher Overholt, CEO and secretary general, Canadian Olympic Committee.

A focus on raising athletes’ profiles and telling their individual stories was an important plank in the strategy of Canada’s Olympics Broadcast Media Consortium (Bell/CTV and Rogers) in the run up to the Vancouver Olympics four years ago, and storytelling around the athletes has been a key part of the COC’s strategy to promote its athletes since then.

In terms of social media, Twitter was named the “exclusive Social Media Partner”—a first for the COC. According to the release, the partnership will “offer opportunities to Canadian Olympic Team partners to promote Canadian Olympic tweets (from approved athlete handles and official Team handles: @CDNOlympicTeam and @OlympiqueCanada).” Look for #WeAreWinter and #NousSommeslHiver to show up regularly on Twitter in the weeks ahead.

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