Thursday, August 14, 2008

Wonder Kid Curling

It’s all about the kids. And the Olympics.

Canadian Olympic TV viewers have been delighted by the new commercial spots for Wonder Bread, a sponsor of both the Canadian Olympic team in Beijing and the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games overall.

Wonder, a Weston Bakeries brand, has a Beijing 2008 online campaign but chose the winter sports theme for its TV spots, which features tiny tykes attempting to ski, skate, bobsleigh and... you guessed it, throw curling stones (above, click to zoom in).

Brilliant move by Weston, and their agency, Round Table Advertising. The little ones are impossibly cute, as you can see by this link. You can also see the spot here, plus the :15-second all-curling version.

Cuteness sells. And we’re buying, particularly when we see two youngsters sliding rocks around amid slips and slides.

The tykes are hired actors (but of course) and the spot was shot last November. Turns out the “stones” are actually ice buckets that were partially filled with sand, glued shut and then painted to resemble real curling stones. VANOC and the Canadian Curling Association even gave their blessing to the new “rocks”.

Er... wouldn’t it have been easier to just call Asham?

Curling has its own :15-second vignette, while the link above showcases all sports in a :60-second spot.

“It’s a little different to see winter sports during the summer Olympics,” said Weston’s Lisa Dahl. And as we said earlier, that’s brilliant.

Here’s Round Table Creative Director Brent Peterson:

Wonder Bread is the favourite bread of Canadian children, and through Weston Bakeries, is an Official Supplier to the 2010 Vancouver Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. This inspired us to show Canada that it is never too early to start dreaming. We thought it would be charming and entertaining to watch tomorrow's athletes as they discover, learn (and fumble through) their chosen sport.

And still with kids, both big and small...

• “Young people aren’t watching curling anymore,” says John Bernards, executive director of the International Association of Skateboard Companies. Bah Humbug, John. What–Ever. Get Bent, or whatever boarders are saying these days. You Gnarly Chode ...

• Sounds like reigning world junior curling champion Eve Muirhead of Scotland is also one heck of a golfer ...

• From curling’s favourite big kid: 2006 Olympic champ Jamie Korab has posted a behind-the-scenes video from his Italian experience ...

• For the kid in all of us: here’s a peek at a car racing video game featuring “curling” – in this one you eject your driver through the window and onto a curling target. Er, okay ...

• Turns out former Scottish world curling champ and current Brit Olympic team bigwig Mike Hay is in Beijing, after first going to Macao ...

• And two Canadian curling coaches are also in Beijing, Janet Arnott (of Team Jennifer Jones) and Scott Taylor (from Team Glenn Howard). This is part of a Canadian Olympic Committee “secret plan” to familiarize potential 2010 team mebers and coaches with the whole Olympic hoo-hah. Scott reports exclusively for The Curling News:

13 hour flight over was good. The new Beijing airport is fantastic. Road travel was easy using the special lane for Olympic vehicles. The sun is up but obscured by haze. Hot and humid. Off to the Olympic Village this morning.

Slow going on this BlackBerry.

What we have seen of Beijing is beautiful and clean. The people are very friendly. Many of them speak English, which makes it easy for us.

Our first full day kept us busy. We spent most of the day at the Athlete’s Village after we traded in our passports for one of the coveted accreditations. Security is tighter than at some airports.
It boggles the mind to comprehend the time, effort, planning and organizing that must go into a facility that houses and feeds 10,000 athletes and 4,000 support staff. We had lunch in a more quaint setting that seats 6,000.

Our athletes are well looked after. The support staff have setup facilities to help them prepare and recover. It was great to see that many athletes have their country’s flag hanging from their balcony. The huge Canadian flag that had been smuggled into many previous closing ceremonies made it obvious where our athletes are located.

Our next stop was Canada Olympic House. It provides many services for the family and friends of our athletes. Fortunately for us we were considered friends – hey, we’re curlers! – and got the royal treatment.

Jet-lag is decreasing. We shouldn't fall asleep during the next day’s session.

Media day! We visited the International Broadcast Centre (IBC). We found out firsthand that you can’t get anywhere if your passport does not match the info they have on file. The half of the media centre that we saw is massive. It’s unbelievable how many media people are here. It can be a challenge for the athletes to make time for the media but how would their story get told without them?

With great anticipation we went to the Canada-USA women’s baseball game. You can’t get in if you have a bottle of water with you – just like boarding a plane. Canada took a 1-0 lead against the favoured USA in the bottom half of the first inning. Then the air cleared and the rain started. Watching the grounds crew cover the infield was entertaining.
After we were soaked, raincoats were handed out to everyone. Our agenda did not allow us to wait. As we drove away on the bus the rain cover was being pulled off to resume play. My dream of seeing Olympic athletes in action has been fulfilled. Turns out the game was eventually called off, and our women's team will have a double-header tomorrow.

Back at the Canadian Performance Centre we got to hear from Canadian head coaches about how they help their athletes prepare for their Olympic performance. We took a tour of the Centre and outfitting areas.
We had a dinner meeting tonight to cap off our 13-hour day... and it’s still raining!

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