Now & Zen Productions

Nike USOC Processing Center

This summer all eyes were on Rio de Janeiro for the Games of the XXXI Olympiad. Over the course of 16 days, competing athletes are on a global stage like no other — from the opening ceremony procession to the unforgettable displays of courage, talent, and determination that lead to each emotional medal ceremony. But have you ever wondered how athletes receive their apparel for these pinnacle moments? For those representing Team USA, it all took place at the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) Processing Center in Houston, Texas.

The Olympic Processing Center was one of the last stops for Team USA athletes on their journey to Rio. During processing, athletes met with USOC representatives, had official pictures taken, and were outfitted in the official apparel necessary to participate in the games.

Over the course of 12 days, Now & Zen had the opportunity to work with the USOC and Nike in outfitting over 700 Olympic athletes and delegates in their official medal stand and media looks, as well as additional Team USA gear for their time at the games. Although the USOC has always provided Team USA’s apparel during processing, Rio was the first Olympics where it was done with this much style and attention to detail. Each athlete and delegate had a uniquely personalized experience in the Nike space that was both efficient and fun. As one athlete put it, “I don’t want to leave—it’s like a party in here!” Now & Zen helped create a system whereby we could move all athletes and delegates through the space in a timely manner, while still maintaining the energy and memorable experience the client desired.

Just a few weeks later, we headed back to Houston to create the same personalized experience for the athletes and delegates representing Team USA at the XV Paralympic Games. Over 400 people came through the Paralympic Processing Center in 8 days. Although the numbers were smaller, Now & Zen approached this program with the same attention to detail, enthusiasm, and proactive attitude as the first. One Paralympian described their experience as, “Amazing… So different from any prior years. This year [it was a] unique individual experience. I felt really special… I thought they would change things, [but] the fact that Paralympians are getting the same as Olympians is quite special.”

Being able to meet Team USA Olympians and Paralympians during one of the final steps on their journey to such a prestigious event was a truly indescribable feeling. It was humbling to see them have great appreciation for everyone involved in the process, and made it that much more special as we watched them compete in Rio.