USA Gymnastics was months away from the Olympics, and their CEO asked Jimmy Dunne if he had any ideas to help emotionally connect his gymnastics team to everyday Americans.
Dunne had an idea… To follow in the footsteps of the “Wizard of Oz.” When the Cowardly Lion wanted ‘courage,’ the fix was to give him a badge — declaring how much courage he had. Dunne suggested that if he wrote an “Official Song,” it might be just enough to get an artist interested in riding on the foot tails of the Olympics — and good things might happen… It sure did.
“When You Put Your Heart in It” was born, an emotional anthem — and declared “The Official Song of the USA Gymnastics.”
Dunne’s next job was to leverage the songs’ relationship with USA Gymnastics, and find ways to expose the song.
Next thing you know, Kenny Rogers recorded the song, and his label, Warner Brothers, made it their first single. With USA Gymnastics attached to the story of the song, the song quickly rose to the top of the Billboard Charts – creating exposure for USGF to new, untapped audiences.
The combustion was spectacular… The Olympic Games launched, NBC started airing the song to video montages of the Gymnastics Team, and the song exploded with 850,000 airplays all across the country — with deejays introducing it as “The Official Song of USA Gymnastics Team.”
The song continued to air repeatedly during the Olympic telecasts; and on a prime-time ABC Special, Shannon Miller performed her balance beam routine to the song.
A week after the Olympic Games, the American Music Awards were airing live on ABC. Jimmy Dunne and Ken Kragen mastermind getting Kenny Rogers to sing the song on the show, while the entire USA Gymnastics Team performed routines on stage to a 2 billion global television audience.
Kenny Rogers performed the song at the White House (twice), and on a CBS Kennedy Center Special (to a USA Gymnastics Team video).
Kenny Rogers was a sponsor of Dole Pineapples, and they wanted in on the action. They paid for a video (becoming the first-ever corporate-sponsored music video on MTV) — with the USA Gymnastics team as the emotional stars of the video.
Countless Kenny Rogers/USA Gymnastics Team television interviews and talk show events passionately discussing the honor to spend time with the extraordinary kids on the USA Gymnastics Team.
The song won the prestigious “BMI Pop Award” and “BMI Country Award” for “A Song of the Year,” and “Most Performed Songs.”
All because USA Gymnastics declared the song as its “Official Song…”