The U.S. bobsled team hasn’t won a medal for 78 years, or since the era in which Germany hosted the summer iteration of the games in Berlin, and Jesse Owens, to Hitler’s chagrin, won four gold medals. BMW’s North American sales arm, in the middle of a six-year sponsorship of the U.S. Olympic Committee that began in 2010, is hoping to change that.
The automaker, which has been deeply involved in designing Team U.S.A. bobsleds, is supporting its efforts with a major marketing push for the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The campaign, via Kirshenbaum Bond Senecal + Partners, includes ads, a documentary, retail activations and Team USA athlete support.
The first TV spot, breaking Sunday, features Team USA bobsledders Steve Holcomb, a 2010 Olympic gold medalist; 2010 Olympic bronze medalist Elana Meyers; Team USA bobsledders Curt Tomasevicz, Steve Langton and Aja Evans; and BMW Group DesignworksUSA’s Michael Scully, the lead designer of the bobsled project.
The second ad promotes the third year of BMW’s "Drive for Team USA" national fundraising campaign. In that spot, Winter Olympics athletes hit the slopes before anyone else. And Team USA bobsledders train in their new BMW two-man bobsled. The effort supports BMW's overall thematic, "Ultimate Driving Machine."
Central to the campaign is an effort to support BMW's performance halo by illuminating its R&D work on behalf of the USA Bobsled & Skeleton Federation. In the offing from that collaboration is a new toboggan design out of the West Coast USOC training center in Chula Vista, Calif., where the automaker is working on sled designs. The Woodcliff, N.J.-based U.S. sales arm of BMW also has a documentary on the design work called "Driving on Ice," which also airs on NBC Sunday. It features athletes, coaches and Scully.
Digital kicks off mid-month with a social vector called “Born to Slide” starting next week, where people can enter by submitting an image or video of how they “slide” on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #BMWborntoslide for a chance to win a trip to Park City, Utah, to ride a competitive-level bobsled. There is also content at NBC Olympics.com comprising video of athlete achievements and vignettes on technology.
During the games, which run from Feb. 7 to Feb. 23, BMW will extend the social campaign on its Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Facebook channels and will stream viewer comments on #BMWBobsled and #BMWTeamUSA hashtags. Vignettes from “Driving on Ice” will be available to fans at BMW’s YouTube channel beginning Jan. 3.
Also involved on the agency side are UM, responsible for media duties and UM Studios for production of the “Driving on Ice” documentary; Stun Creative; and Octagon, which is intermediary for BMW on U.S. Olympic partnerships and athlete relations.