USA Swimming Dives Head First Into Bold New Ad Campaign

Competitive swimming's governing body, which oversees the sport from community pools all the way to the Olympics, wants to hook kids (and their parents) early. To do that, it's relying on a lot of cannonballs.

“Basketball. Softball. Cannonball. Which sounds the most fun to you?”

Based on the clip where this tagline shows up, the first two have some competition:

It’s all part of USA Swimming’s strategy to draw children to a sport that tends to get a lot of attention once every four years, during the Olympics, but often struggles to keep interest up the rest of the time. The campaign, highlighted by the Swim Today website, aims to sell kids on team swimming as an alternative to soccer, football, or other sports.

They know our product is on the shelf, but they’re just not thinking about us the same way.

Swim Today notes that this has been a lingering problem for the sport: While many families take children to swim lessons, 80 percent don’t stick around to participate in competitive swimming.

“Once their child begins swimming on a team, they see benefits of the sport that they never realized before,” the site explains. “We want to spread that message and make sure all parents know just how great the sport of swimming can be.”

According to Matt Farrell, chief marketing officer for USA Swimming, parents don’t think of swimming in the way they think about many competitive sports.

“We don’t need to teach these parents what the sport is, but it’s not entering their consideration set like soccer is or basketball is,” Farrell told The New York Times. “They know our product is on the shelf, but they’re just not thinking about us the same way.”

Farrell added that the effort is bringing together many traditional competitors in the swimming-products space—such as Speedo, Tyr, and Arena—to present a unified front in encouraging youngsters to swim.

The campaign, launched in May, was masterminded by Minneapolis ad agency Colle + McVoy.

(Swim Today campaign)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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