By  on January 25, 2012

Pantene is taking on its largest global sponsorship to date by naming 11 elite female athletes as new health and beauty ambassadors.

The initiative is part of parent Procter & Gamble Co.’s Worldwide Olympic Partner status with the London 2012 Olympic Games and marks the first time that Pantene has used athletes as ambassadors.

“Our involvement in the Olympics goes back more than 70 years, but everything changed after the Vancouver Winter Games in 2010,” said Marc Pritchard, global marketing and brand building officer for Procter & Gamble. “We were inspired by the Olympic movement and its purpose to build a better world through sport.”

The athletes — who include American swimmer Natalie Coughlin, an 11-time Olympic medalist — were chosen to illustrate that, despite their intense training for the Olympics, healthy and attractive hair is still possible.

“I like Pantene’s idea that healthy is the new beautiful,” said British cyclist Victoria Pendleton, an Olympic gold medalist and three-time world champion. “It makes so much sense to me that a female athlete would be a beauty ambassador. Part of being beautiful is being healthy, but I don’t think people realize when they look at us that we want to be healthy from head to toe and that includes having healthy, beautiful hair. I also think many young girls look up to athletes and it’s healthy for them to be able to see us as role models of beauty.”

Added Russian rhythmic gymnast Evgeniya Kanaeva: “I think this campaign will help redefine the traditional boundaries of beauty.”

The Olympics were chosen because the Games are relevant in all 180 countries in which Pantene is carried, said Hanneke Faber, vice president and brand franchise leader, Global Haircare at Procter & Gamble. Faber, a former Dutch national springboard diving champion, added “We’re proud to have five defending gold medalists…in this campaign.”

Alexi Lubomirski shot much of the print and outdoor advertising. Its break varies by country, although the bulk of it will begin hitting in June and July, said Faber, who added that an extensive digital campaign is also on tap.

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