The Special Olympics World
Games 2015 was to be the largest sporting event hosted by LA since the 1984 Olympics. After L.A. won the bid (and DE was selected as
AOR), it quickly became apparent that there was little awareness about the
event or its purpose. To complicate the situation, there was zero funding for
the games; all efforts, money and in-kind, needed to be donated.
Beyond building awareness for the Games, we needed to serve a higher purpose of changing people’s perceptions about those who have intellectual disabilities. Without any funding, we needed to secure $71 million to subsidize the games as well as enlist some 30,000 volunteers and draw 200,000 spectators for the week-long event. And we had to do it all with a no-cost media plan!
While attending a
regional Special Olympics competition, we observed that whether athletes won or
lost in competition, they joyfully threw up their arms in triumph. This gesture
spoke volumes about their sense of pride and feelings of accomplishment. We took
this insight and created the “Reach Up” pose and logo. Videos and marketing
materials of the athletes striking the pose became our theme to inspire
donations and create awareness all over Los Angeles.
Media played a key role in inspiring the market
to react with attendance, a donation or a commitment to volunteer. We focused
on a high profile outdoor presence complemented by high-frequency TV, radio,
print and digital media. We implemented
two media flights, one to generate awareness, donations and volunteers, and the
second as a build-up to the actual World Games in July to drive attendance and
support. All media was donated through DE’s ability to leverage our
considerable clout in the greater Los Angeles area.
The Special Olympics World Games 2015 were the most successful World Games ever. The opening ceremonies at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum sold out, and attendance for the weeklong event surpassed the client’s expectation. For the first time ever, live broadcasts of the evens were shown on ESPN with more than 20 million viewers. And we achieved 4 billion social media impressions worldwide.