Special Olympics needed to get more sponsors. In order to convince companies to sponsor athletes with a mental disability we made a B2B campaign. Targeting major brands through direct conversation on social media. And through a broader audience.
The biggest prospects got a personalised approach. With a customized direct mail and an outdoor billboard in front of a potential sponsor’s headquarters. The aim was not to get them to sign a one time sponsorship deal, but a long time commitment.
Special Olympics is an organisation that provides sports training and competition for people with intellectual disabilities. They strongly believe in social inclusion through unified sports. To accomplish this, Special Olympics receives funds by private partners. They don’t get any governmental support and don’t work with membership fees. That’s why it’s crucial for them to get new partners and funds.
This year Special Olympics decided to attract new sponsors through a direct B2B-campaign. The main objective? Finding new leads and get potential sponsors to commit to a long-term partnership.
Describe the creative idea
How do you convince companies to sponsor athletes with an intellectual disability instead of the big sports heroes? By turning the roles upside down: we didn’t just show what they could do for us, but what our special athletes could do for them. And showing them as a good investment. Because they work just as hard as the other athletes and are just as capable of playing the lead in a commercial or a print ad.
So, we created ‘#daretosponsor’, in which we dared companies to sponsor a special athlete instead of a famous sports hero. The idea? Copying existing sponsorship campaigns. For example: we put their picture on a can, like our Belgium Red Devils on a can of Coca Cola. We made them shave as if for a Gillette commercial. And put their face on a billboard holding a product.
Describe the strategy
Most B2B campaign happen under the radar. This campaign, however, aimed to get two birds with one stone: sponsors and sport fans. First, we would reach out to CEO’s or marketing directors by our bold challenges via an online video, the OOH posters and the direct mailing.
Our call to action? To dare to sponsor a special athlete in the nearby future.
Second, using the support of major Belgian athletes on social media enabled us to reach out sports fans and even more potential partners without having to look for contacts.
Describe the execution
The idea was translated in a fully integrated approach. First of all, we’ve launched an online film, daring our primary prospects to sponsor. On the same day, we placed a billboard in front of P&G’s headquarters (Gillette), featuring a special athlete shaving himself. Moreover, we’ve also sent e-mails and a follow up direct mail containing a can featuring a special athlete.
To reach our secondary prospects, we bought online banners on marketing websites and Instagram ads, and pushed our content on LinkedIn, challenging brands to #daretosponsor.
Influencer athletes supported the campaign on social media, encouraging companies to accept the challenge. Multiple companies were charmed by the challenges, some even responding on social with a video featuring the CEO who accepted the challenge.
After each new sponsor, a new campaign boost followed, highlighting the result of that brand’s new campaign.
List the results
In PR, we had a total reach of over 16 million views and an earned media value of more than 719.000 euros.
But more importantly, we convinced 10 major brands to start a new partnership with Special Olympics. Including Procter & Gamble, Coca Cola (Aquarius), BNP Paribas, Mylène, Red Bull, Telenet, MCcain, Johnson & Johnson and Nestlé. Enabling over 800 athletes to continue training and competing in Special Olympics. And today still, we are talking with new potential partners. Because every athlete deserves a top sponsor.