At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, U.S.-based Bank of America sponsored and ran a so-called Family Home, where U.S. Olympians, their families and friends could gather in a comfortable environment for the duration of the Games. But Bank of America dropped out as a TEAM USA sponsor after being hit hard by the global economic downturn. Proctor & Gamble stepped in for the Vancouver Winter Olympics.
Proctor and Gamble signed on as a U.S. Olympic Team sponsor last September, but it was only last month that the U.S.-based company announced it would sponsor a P&G Family Home at the Vancouver Olympics for TEAM USA.
It is in a convenient downtown location in the multi-story Wosk Center, which is part of Simon Fraser University.
P&G Brand Manager Sam Minardi told VOA the company wanted to create an inviting environment for TEAM USA Olympians and their families and friends.
And he said becoming an Olympic sponsor was a good way to market P&G products.
"We're really hoping we can inspire the families and athletes of the Games and carry that out through different vehicles to our broad base of consumers in the U.S. Ultimately we're looking to drive favorability of our brands and a stronger brand affinity across the 18 brands that participate," said Minardi.
Among those P&G brands are products many American consumers use everyday, like toothpaste, deodorant, disposable baby diapers, laundry detergent and potato chips.
Besides sponsoring the Family Home in Vancouver, P&G decided to take an extra step, launching a campaign to provide special monetary support for mothers of U.S. athletes. It is called "Thanks Mom."
While many Team USA sponsors celebrate achievements of individual Olympians, P&G also wanted to acknowledge those who made it possible -- the mothers who supported their child's dream to make The U.S. Olympic Team.
To help to kick-off the program, the company engaged 1992 U.S. Olympic gold medal figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi. She told VOA it is a wonderful initiative.
"The 'Thanks Mom' program with P&G is incredible. This is really the first time this has been done for an Olympics, where every mom of an [American] Olympian has the opportunity for P&G to help them defray the cost of accommodations, of travel, to be here to cheer their child on at the Olympic Games, and to really just share that moment with them," said Yamaguchi.
More than 200 Team USA moms have taken advantage of the program.
One of them is Dixie Baver, mother of speed skater Allison Baver, a three-time Olympian from the eastern state of Pennsylvania. She told VOA she is extremely grateful for the P&G "Thanks Mom" program.
"Nobody else has ever tried to help defray costs for anything for parents, so this is huge," said Baver. "This is just something that is unbelievable. And when I first found out about it I actually started crying because, um, I'm gonna now [cry] too, because it is such a help."
Dixie Baver said she, her Olympian daughter and other family members have spent quality time at the P&G Family Home in Vancouver, enjoying complimentary meals and even watching other Olympic events on television together.
P&G's Sam Minardi says the company will continue to pursue its partnership with the U.S. Olympic Committee through the 2012 London Summer Games.