NBC Olympics creates a site to follow athletes

NEW YORK: NBC Olympics has teamed with Johnson & Johnson and iVillage to host "The Family Room," a Web site and multimedia experience that follows the journeys of eight athletes as they attempt to qualify for the 2008 Beijing Games.

NEW YORK: NBC Olympics has teamed with Johnson & Johnson and iVillage to host "The Family Room," a Web site and multimedia experience that follows the journeys of eight athletes as they attempt to qualify for the 2008 Beijing Games.

Through a series of weekly webisodes on www.ivillage.com/familyroom, visitors follow the lives of Olympic hopefuls, witnessing firsthand the experiences of the athletes.

The five- to seven-minute documentary-style shorts, which anchor the network's Olympic online presence, feature footage and interviews captured by network producers as well as hand-held camera photoplay shots by the athletes and their families.

"This is a compelling way to connect consumers across the country to the journey of Olympic athletes," said Dave Mingey, the Olympic marketing director for J&J. "There's no greater reality programming than looking into the life of someone trying to make an Olympic team."

In July 2005, J&J became official healthcare products sponsor of the 2006 Winter Games, then an official partner in the Beijing Games. In addition to providing bandages and Bengay to athletes, the company has pledged to launch a series of activities to promote the Games globally.

J&J hired Edelman to create the Web site, which features bios and interactive blogs. The firm has planned other initiatives, including appearances in partner stores and media days.

The creators chose athletes that had compelling stories to tell. Among the athletes featured on the site are Tina Ellertson, who weathered an unplanned pregnancy at 18 and became a defender on the US national soccer team at the age of 26; and Reese Hoff, a track and field star, whose troubled teen-aged mother sent him to live at an orphanage at 4 years old.

None of the athletes on the Web site are guaranteed to go to the Olympics.

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