TORONTO (Reuters) - The Canadian Olympic Committee is hoping to tap into some of the country’s Winter Games mojo by building a Rio de Janeiro Olympic brand campaign it hopes will leave people cold.
With the Rio Summer Games 100 days away, the COC launched an “Ice In Our Veins” campaign on Wednesday it hopes will put the spotlight on athletes and take the focus away from a sexual harassment scandal involving former president Marcel Aubut.
The Aubut scandal has left a dark cloud hanging over the COC and prompted former Olympic moguls champion Jean-Luc Brassard to step down as Canada’s chef de mission two weeks ago.
COC Chief Marketing Officer Derek Kent acknowledged that the Aubut scandal had damaged the COC brand but believed the edgy campaign designed to build on the wintery bonds that connect and characterize the country will put the spotlight back where it belongs - on the athletes.
“Like any organization we have had some tough moments the last six months. We’ve addressed it,” Kent told Reuters.
”We have accepted all the recommendations and we’re with the athletes. The focus should be on the athletes and the Road to Rio and that is what we are doing.
“It’s time to start telling the athletes’ stories and that’s what this campaign does.”
The Great White North has long celebrated a rugged, wintery persona. The COC used a “We Are Winter” slogan for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics and Toronto’s NBA team embraced the image by rebranding the franchise behind the slogan “We the North.”
“Winter is in our blood and part of our DNA,” said Kent. “It (the campaign) recognizes winter made us who we are and defines us as a country no matter the season our athletes compete in.”
The dramatic 60-second spot, which will be found on social media and television, is packed with winter imagery as divers plunge off icebergs into icy waters and tennis player Milos Raonic launches a serve on a snowy landscape.
“I love how our rugged Canadian landscape is such an important part of this campaign,” said Raonic. “It gives me great pride to know that I am sharing this connection with my fellow Canadians who also identify with this mindset.”
The cold reality, however, is that Canada’s Summer Olympians have not come close to matching the medal production of their winter counterparts.
Canada led all nations at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics with 14 gold medals and finished third in Sochi with 10 gold. At the 2012 Summer Games in London, Canada won a single gold medal.
Editing by Frank Pingue