The Special Olympics is a global movement that has been transforming the lives of people with intellectual disability or autism for almost 50 years. In June 2023, Icon was tasked with helping to raise brand awareness for Special Olympics Australia around the Berlin World Games.
The Special Olympics Australia began in 1976 when many people with an intellectual disability were shut in institutions. While this is no longer the norm in Australia, the organisation continues to seek public support to ensure that people with an intellectual disability or autism are not shut out.
By helping to give them opportunities to play sport, Special Olympics Australia is helping to open the door to personal achievement, pride and inclusion for some of the most marginalised and isolated members of our community.
The world’s largest inclusive sporting event, the World Games takes place every four years in different host nations. This year, the competition went to Berlin, where some 64 Australian athletes with intellectual disabilities or autism competed against some 7,000 inspiring athletes from around the globe.
Recognised by the International Olympics Committee (IOC), the Special Olympics World Games in Berlin attracted more than 300,000 spectators. Crowds supported their teams and watched on as thousands of athletes competed in the biggest multi-sport event to be held in Germany since the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich.
An established brand in the U.S., where it was first launched, Special Olympics Australia is generally misunderstood by the Australian public and media as being synonymous with the Paralympics.
The Berlin World Games presented an opportunity to raise brand awareness for the organisation, educate Australians about its role, and differentiate it from the Paralympics.
To help with this, Icon Agency was tasked with developing a robust communications plan that would generate widespread media coverage for the Special Olympics Australia brand.
The challenge for Icon Agency was to generate enough media attention to help the Special Olympics Australia brand cut through the noise of the international games.
To do this, Icon leveraged key moments throughout the two-week World Games to generate awareness and build excitement in the region around the games.
Icon focused on telling the real-life stories of the inspiring athletes and their achievements in the lead-up to, during, and after the games ended. Working with the team at Brisbane Airport, ‘farewell’ and ‘welcome home’ celebrations attracted the attention of national broadcast stations and regular updates on medal-wins and ‘personal bests’ drove consistent coverage for the duration of the games.
To help distinguish the brand from the international organisation and Paralympics, Icon also focused on raising the profile of the Special Olympics CEO, providing opportunities to seed important key messaging.
By leveraging the World Games event as an opportunity to build brand awareness for the organisation, Icon helped generate more than 1,134 pieces of earned media coverage for the organisation, a 22% increase when compared to the previous World Games.
With a total audience reach of more than 115,375,888, coverage highlights included Weekend Sunrise, ABC News, Channel 7 News and Channel 10 News.
In partnership with a specialised broadcast agency, Icon also helped secure more than 43 live radio interviews for Special Olympics Australia CEO and athletes.
Media content development