Special Olympics New York has provided inclusive opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities for more than 50 years. Through their hard work and extensive programming, they’ve helped athletes experience the thrill of competitive sports. Yet despite their decades of experience, the non-profit is in a constant struggle to generate the money that funds their initiatives.
On the other side of the aisle, professional sports continue to thrive. Even amidst the global Covid-19 pandemic, brands continued to sponsor pro athletes (to the tune of nearly $30B), while Special Olympics New York struggles to keep essential programs alive with an operating budget equivalent to just 0.03% of that amount. Our mission was to launch a campaign that could somehow connect this life-changing organization with more of the deep-pocketed sponsors they rely on.
STRATEGY & EXECUTION
The Covid-19 pandemic turned the world upside down, altering nearly every industry imaginable—including pro sports. The NBA and MLB were forced to shorten their seasons; the Summer Olympics in Japan were postponed; March Madness was called off completely. With far fewer games to play, sponsors were suddenly left with money to spend.
This led us to think, what if we could inspire these sports sponsors to steer dollars away from their traditional players and teams who weren’t playing and towards the Special Olympians who truly need them to survive. We created #YourBrandHere, a campaign showcasing a sports sponsorship of a Special Olympian waiting to happen…
Our team created an inspiring video that looked and felt like an iconic sports ad but one key element was missing: an actual brand sponsor. The 60-second spot highlighted three accomplished New York Special Olympians in the classic athlete aesthetic, but in place of a product was our tagline: #YourBrandHere. To give our athletes the full superstar treatment, we also photographed them for three unique print ads.
Our team leveraged social media channels to launch the campaign and make the powerful CTA for users and followers: @ tag brands and tell them to sponsor Special Olympics New York.
Inspired by the content, people began tagging sponsorship heavyweights and catching the attention of potential partners like @UnderArmour, @Nike and @adidas. The campaign was covered by all of the team’s targeted industry publications and generated more than 206 million impressions.
The campaign has also quickly made waves with the C-suite set on LinkedIn, and a new, high-level brand sponsor is currently in talks with Special Olympics New York about a future collaboration.