The largest humanitarian event in the world.

The largest sporting event hosted by the city of Los Angeles!

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.