Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Inside USA House in London

Let's get the disclosure out of the way up front: In my freelance P.R. role as a recent Edelman team member of 13 years, I am helping out the MATTER-Edelman team for their Citi Olympic sponsor client. What a cool client to support!
Citi is among the newest U.S. Olympic Committee sponsors. The company's 200 year history includes many historic enterprises, and it's been fun to learn and share more about Citi's support of several community based sport programs hand-picked by Olympic athletes.

Today at USA House in London, Citi unveiled its "Signature Step" display with Citi Olympians Rowdy Gaines and Cullen Jones. I keep thinking of the Atlanta musical "Musicals Suck! The Musical" and the lyrics to the song "Just One Step."

Gaines and Jones joined Citi Chief Branding Officer Dermot Boden and USOC CMO Lisa Baird for a brief press conference and unveiling event, during which Skyler explained the Citi Every Step of the Way program and how the company contributed $500,000 to the USOC and US Paralympics. Thirteen Citi athletes designated their sports program that has inspired their journey, and anyone with Internet access may choose and athlete/program to support in one of the most dynamic Olympic social media campaigns of 2012.

Earlier this year I chose to support Milwaukee hometown athlete Gwen Jorgensen, who I can hardly wait to see compete in the women's triathlon next week. Check out the other Citi athletes to support and pick one!

During a one-on-one interview after the event, Jones shared some details about his near-drowning experience as a five-year old visiting a water park (I, too, had a near-drowning experience at a racket club swimming pool as a kindergartner in Edmond, Okla., so it was interesting to hear his story -- I will attempt to post video of the interview later today). Jones also explained how the Citi team captured his footprint in plaster and bronze for today's unveiling -- sort of a Grauman's Chinese Theatre-like addition to USA House.

USA House in London is big! Nestled into a building next door to Royal Albert Hall, USA House of London features more sponsor fixtures than I recall in the Beijing version which was in a large restaurant. In addition to Citi, we spotted Deloitte, United Airlines, Chobani, DeVry, BMW and other Team USA supporters showcased in style.

During lunch we also shook hands with LA84 legend Peter Ueberroth and his wife Ginny. Tonight we'll check out the sponsor and media gatherings for the opening of USA House.

Photos by Nicholas Wolaver

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