Canadian Olympic Committee launches agency search

Steve’s breakdown: They say an RFP has been issued to 10 agencies already but with a couple of phone calls, I bet you can get a copy too.

TORONTO, Canada: The Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) is seeking a new agency partner that can help it build on the positive momentum created by its triumphant showing at the Vancouver Games.

Derek Kent, the COC’s newly appointed chief marketing officer, said the agency partner will be responsible for further strengthening the COC’s brand identity among both the public as well as current and prospective corporate partners.

“The brand is extremely strong, we’ve got great momentum post-Vancouver, and now we want to work with an amazing creative partner to take it to the next level,” said Kent, who arrived at the COC in June after spending the previous eight years with Nike, most recently as its U.S. media relations director based in New York.

“We’re starting on a very strong foundation, and the objective is to strengthen it even further.”

The COC recently issued an RFP to approximately 10 agencies that Kent said “run the gamut” from smaller independents to multinationals, and will whittle that down to a shortlist of two or three agencies.

Kent said the organization is seeking an agency partner with considerable expertise in the digital realm. “The brand will not be launching major TV campaigns,” he said. “We’ll be focused more on digital executions, storytelling through our web platform, Facebook and Twitter. There will be some PSAs, but [digital] will be the primary focus.”

It is “absolutely certain” that a new agency partner will be chosen before the end of the year, he said. “The goal would be to do it swiftly as possible, but we want to take our time to make sure we have the right partner,” he said. “We’re not going to be bound by a timeline, other than to say we would like to have a partner in place as quickly as we can.”

While the COC has typically worked with agencies on a project basis, Kent was vague when asked if the winning agency would be granted AOR status. “That will be determined,” he said. “The first step is getting the credentials of the agencies, understanding their background and understanding their capabilities.

“From there we’ll have discussions on what type of relationship we’ll have going forward.”

In June, the COC introduced a new series of marks for its competition wear and merchandise that was developed by Vancouver-based designer and director Ben Hulse.

A Montreal native, Kent also worked with Nike Canada, as well as a vice-president at Veritas Communications in Toronto.

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