Awesome near real-time AT&T television commercial breaks through Olympics ad clutter

In a world of boring advertising campaigns, real-time marketing & PR gets noticed.

ATT1I'm lacking sleep this week from watching the Olympic coverage here in the US on NBC because I'm staying up past my normal bedtime!

While I like checking out snippets of many events, I really love swimming. I swam on a club team as a kid, my daughter was a competitive swimmer for ten years and while she was swimming I was a national level swimming official.

I generally hate television advertising. The "campaign" mode of the typical TV commercial means the ads are shot way in advance. Because they typically involve big budget filming, the sponsor puts the same damned ad on again and again. Boring.

While most of AT&T's ads fall into the "not interested – fast forward" category for me, there have been two near real-time ads involving swimming that astonished me.

ATT2The ads showed a young person watching the actual footage of a world record swim from the day before on a mobile. You see the NBC clip of the world record finish and hear the actual commentary. Then you realize the young person is a swimmer and he or she is writing the new world record time with the word "goal" on a whiteboard at home.

Early in the week the AT&T ad was Ryan Lochte's world record 400 IM where he beat Michael Phelps. Here is the AT&T Ryan Lochte ad.

Last night the AT&T ad was even better because Rebecca Soni broke the 200 breaststroke world record the day before in the semi-finals. The near real-time ad ran the next day immediately after the finals which she won beating her own world record. Here's the AT&T Rebecca Soni ad.


Rea Ann Fera at Fast Company wrote an excellent article How AT&T integrated Olympic results into its ads so darn fast that explained the process of how the ads were created by agency BBDO.

Here's how it was done as reporteed by Fera: Three sports were selected as the campaign’s focus--swimming, gymnastics, and track and field. BBDO then created six versions of the commercial in advance, two for each sport alternately featuring a male or female athlete, with hundreds of different endings to account for a predicted range of winning times. AT&T worked with longtime broadcasting partner NBC to arrange for access to the footage within unusually quick turnaround times so that they could create a campaign that would stand out from the hailstorm of sponsored messages. Once one of the athletes pegged as likely to win is competing, a team from BBDO sits in London and waits. If the athlete performs well, it’s go time. A winning result means that footage has to be selected, sent to London-based post house Absolute for integration, the pre-canned shot with the winning time has to be selected and edited together. It’s then sent to NBC and the USOC for approvals and on air within 24 hours of the win. It’s a cycle AT&T is able to repeat up to five times for five winning athletes.

You've got to see the ads. Here are links to the ads on the NBC site:

Congratulations Ryan Lochte
Congratulations Rebecca Soni

Real-Time is a Mindset.

David Meerman Scott

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