Cannes Lions


BBDO NEW YORK, New York / AT&T / 2013

Case Film
Presentation Image
Presentation Image






AT&T is responsible for some of the most advanced technology on the planet. But people still think of AT&T just as a phone company.

We set out to change that perception by creating an immersive and interactive story about the magic and power of technology, in the form of a conspiracy thriller featuring AT&T technology as a central character.


How do you build commercials around events that haven't happened yet? In short, you "Rethink Possible."

As a company always striving to excel, AT&T wanted to use the 2012 London Summer Olympics to celebrate excellence as it happened. To do so, we needed to build "live" spots around footage of record-breaking performances.

The problem? We didn't know what Olympic records would be broken, who would break them, or what their winning time would be. Even more challenging, we needed to film spots with footage we didn't have – and get them on air the same day the event happened.

The solution was an intricate dance of templates, research, risk-taking, arm-twisting, and bike messengers. Despite a two million dollar budget, it wasn't easy:

Templates: First, we had to film templates that would become the skeletons we would ultimately fill with live footage. We settled on three sports we knew NBC would broadcast the most: Swimming, Gymnastics, and Track and Field. We filmed two templates for each: one for male athletes, the other for female athletes. Next, we had to film the hundreds of possible times/scores to the Olympic events we were sponsoring so we could instantly plug that number in as soon as the event finished. (These potential endings were captured in camera to save time, money and add believability.)

Casting: We selected the TEAM USA athletes we thought had the best chance of breaking records at the 2012 Summer Olympics. Then, we had to secure them with contracts. Next, we had to pick the event where we thought one of these athletes might break a new record. Finally, we had to build a network of contingency athletes in case our contracted athletes underperformed and build contracts that could be executed in a matter of hours. We secured a total of 19 contracts, payable only upon a win. In several instances, we relied on these contingency contracts when a sponsored athlete underperformed.

Announcers: For authenticity, we negotiated a fair flat fee to use the real NBC announcers as heard in the live broadcast.

Footage: We negotiated with NBC to arrange for immediate tape access to event footage. We had a team on the ground in London to retrieve (via bike messenger) Olympic footage immediately after the event finished. Partnering with a London production facility for efficiency, we started editing, mixing and compositing as soon as the footage arrived and sent it back to NBC within hours for broadcast. This allowed us to create five "live" spots during the Olympics.

Approvals: Each spot was sent to clients and all necessary parties (USOC, NBC, legal, clients) for approvals and was on air in primetime within 24 hours of the win. In one instance, we were even able to air our spot within the next commercial break after the actual event aired itself.


Almost 800,000 people visited our site, resulting in over three million video views and nearly 8,000 app downloads.

Average time spent on the mobile app was 25 minutes, extending our audience’s participation in the story and our ability to educate them more on AT&T’s innovative products and services.

Most important, the perception of AT&T as a technology company rose 82%.

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