Saturday, February 27, 2010

No Place Like Home

There is always a lot of talk among Olympiphiles that there is an over-commercialization of the Games. As a passing but passionate observer in years past, I agreed with that point of view. Now that I have been to "the other side," I have to say that, while the Olympics are commercial to the nth degree, there are some sponsors who give nearly as much as they get back.
Enter Proctor & Gamble.
In Vancouver, P&G took on a huge task. They chose not to just plaster their name all over creation, purchase TV ads and sit out in varying forms of media as "a proud sponsor of the XXI Games."  Instead, P&G created one of the most effective PR and marketing campaigns I have ever seen (and this is what I do for a living, by the way) and totally integrated it into what was a genuine sentiment that they personally backed up every day. P&G was the sponsor of "Family Home," a safe house of sorts for Team USA members and their families where we could have a place to meet, have meals (free, by the way), go on computers, have a place for young children to play, get much-needed foot, neck and shoulder massages, have hair and makeup done and - yes - they even did our laundry! The theme: "Thanks Mom." 

This was not just an advertising slogan. They backed it up in every way imaginable. In all the years I have been doing marketing, advertising and public relations I have never seen anyone take a campaign and commit to it in such a caring, sensitive way. As one who is relatively jaded when it comes to these things, I was impressed. Family Home was our sanity. Every day, it afforded us a place to meet when we all went off in different directions. It was where we sat with other athlete families to either celebrate or console; it was where we met old friends and made new ones. It was a location of shared experience and one where we could sit quietly and just unwind on the large pillows in front of the movie-sized TV screens broadcasting all the events live. 

I cannot overstate the importance of what this did for all the USA Athlete families in Vancouver. Whether seasoned veterans of the games, like our good friends the Klug family from Aspen (Chris' parents Kathy and Warren), or new friends like the family of Nordic Combined athlete Todd Lodwick, Family Home became just that.
So, thanks to the staff for making us feel welcome. Thanks to the hair and makeup professionals, the caterers, the laundry ladies, the babysitters, the computer staff. Thanks for helping us through our first Olympic experience. There's NO PLACE like home!


  1. I just recently came across your blog, but thanks for sharing your experiences. My daughter has asked to take skating lessons based on the Olympics, so we're starting in March. I can't imagine what all it took for your family to make it there, but it's amazing thing to do for your child.

  2. Hi Kate! So pleased that you are enjoying my blog!

    I can't tell you how many skaters on Olympic ice were inspired by either the Olympic Games or by an athlete they saw. For our skater, it was Robin Cousins. More recently, he has been inspired by his mentor, Paul Wylie, coach Yuka Sato, and countless other Olympians who have joined forces to help today's elite athletes fight the intense nerves and compete on this incredibly enormous and overwhelming stage.

    But it all starts in local rinks with Learn to Skate programs, then group and private lessons. Be prepared: If your child has the desire and the talent, it is a LONG and very expensive road. However, read my "Looking Back at Vancouver" blog from the first of this week. Remember that we are merely the GPS systems. If they want to do this, to a great degree they are in the driver's seat.

    Best of luck to your daughter, and thanks for joining us!

  3. My own competitor didn't follow that road as far as yours did (or rather, took a rather extended detour into professional touring), but I too felt vindicated and honored by those ads for the choices my husband and I made to give our daughter her shot. Glad to hear that P&G put their money where their mouth was. Thanks for sharing your Olympics with us.

    On to Worlds!