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Moms Get Olympic-Sized Thank You

By Karen Rosen | July 27, 2012, 3 p.m. (ET)

As both an Olympic cycling gold medalist and the mother of a London Olympian, Connie Carpenter-Phinney has experienced both sides of Procter & Gamble’s advertising campaign, “Thank you, Mom.”

While dads and siblings play a supporting role in Team USA’s success, “In the immediate family, everybody knows that it’s the mom that really makes the sacrifice on a daily basis,” Carpenter-Phinney said. “I think it’s very well targeted.”

And the P&G Family Home, located near London Bridge, hits as close to home as possible. The 65,000-square foot center, which had its official “housewarming” Friday morning, certainly was planned for everybody and their mother. Visitors are greeted by a sign that says, “Welcome Home, Hang Out, Have Fun.”

Carpenter-Phinney, who was only 14 when she competed as a speed skater at the Sapporo 1972 Olympic Winter Games, won her gold medal in 1984 in the women’s road race. Her son, Taylor, is competing in the road race and the time trial.

“It’s an awesome place,” Carpenter-Phinney said of the P&G Family Home. “I never had this opportunity when I was competing.”

She said her mother was too ill to go to Los Angeles, but if her parents had traveled to the 1984 Games, “there would have been no ability to find a central point to meet, that’s for sure, and you can’t meet at the Village because you can’t get into the Village. This is sort of like the Village away from the Village for people.”

She added that her parents knew other parents only within cycling, “so think it’s really neat the cross-pollination of sports here.”

When moms aren’t cheering for their children in Olympic competition, they can have a makeover in the salon, check email in one of four red telephone booths, entertain toddlers and babies in the Pampers Playground, pose for photos in the Smile Room (sponsored, naturally, by Crest toothpaste) enjoy meals and watch the Olympic Games on large screens. P&G will even do laundry.

“They wash, they fold and iron if it needs it,” said Joy Robles, whose daughter, Sarah, is one of three weightlifters on the U.S. Olympic team. “They do the whole ball of wax.”

Dads and the male members of the family have a place of their own. In the Mancave, downstairs in the basement where it belongs, they can play pool or even get a shave or haircut.

Both men and women can gawk at the Duracell Virtual Stadium, where with the wave of a hand you can watch video footage or see messages.

At the official housewarming party Friday morning, Carly Patterson, the 2004 Olympic gymnastics all-around champion, sang the national anthem and four moms raised the U.S. flag as proudly as they raised their children.

Another celebration was scheduled for Friday night, when the red, white and blue balloons attached by a net to the ceiling would be dropped to celebrate the Opening Ceremony.

The center will be open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. for the duration of the Games.

“After all they’ve given, moms deserve a little pampering,” said Melanie Healey, P&G Group President, North America.

“We are in 99 percent of households in the U.S.,” she added, “and one of our big opportunities in business is to get just one more P&G product into one more home — and what a great way to showcase all of our products and help people understand the many ways that we touch consumers’ lives in very small, but meaningful ways and make a difference.”

Ileana “Ike” Lochte, mother of U.S. swimmer Ryan Lochte, said the P&G Family Home has been a calming influence.

“They were so wonderful — normally, I’m so nervous and I’m a wreck, but once I got here, they took me under their wing,” she said. “With all the moms being here, we had something to share.”

She met Rita Wieber, mother of U.S. Olympic gymnast Jordyn Wieber, at the Family Home. “What made it so great is the fact that P&G allowed us to share our stories and actually made us calmer,” Lochte said. “I’ve never been this calm.”

There are even more Procter & Gamble brands than there are Olympic sports, with 34 brands from Pantene to Pampers and 26 sports from archery to wrestling.

P&G began its 10-year Olympic sponsorship before the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games and this is the company’s first summer Games. Its partnership with the U.S. Olympic Committee is a company first.

“Procter & Gamble came to us in 2010 and said, ‘How can we make a difference?’ ” said Scott Blackmun, the Chief Executive Officer of the USOC. “It’s important to us because of the impact it has on the athlete.”

Blackmun says the P&G Family Home “simplifies their lives” because athletes know that someone who cares is taking care of their families.

“Why Procter & Gamble at the Olympics?” said Marc Pritchard, marketing and brand building officer at P&G. “You make soap and toothpaste; you don’t make athletic equipment and sports apparel. We know that no athlete gets to the Olympic Games alone. It really starts with the moms.”

P&G, which calls itself a “proud sponsor of moms,” not only sponsors 32 U.S. athletes (and 150 around the globe), but the company also gave a $1,000 Visa gift card to every mom of a U.S. Olympian and Paralympian.

Carpenter-Phinney, who is from Boulder, Colo., is using the money to host a party on Wednesday night after Taylor is finished with competition.

“We’ve got a lot of friends and family who have come here, so we kind of owe them a little party,” said Carpenter-Phinney, who said there were about 25 people in the group. “Right at the start/finish of the time trial, there’s a little café on the River Thames. We’ll get Taylor’s attention for that, and that’s a good use of that $1,000 don’t you think?”

Lochte, of Port Orange, Fla., who has 16 immediate family members and 32 people in the whole group, said, “I’m going to treat them to dinner as long as it lasts.”

Robles, who has eight family members in London, is using some of the money back home in San Jacinto, Calif., to kennel the dog, a 13-year-old yellow lab named Toby.

“Because that was a major part of being able to come,” she said, “knowing he’s safe and well-taken care of.”

Robles herself is well-taken care of, with her first manicure in 30 years and a pedicure in her immediate future.

She said she appreciates “the comfort and lots and lots of things to do. And it’s just going to be really, really fun.”

Karen Rosen is a freelance contributor for TeamUSA.org. This story was not subject to the approval of any National Governing Bodies.

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