The stark black-and-white commercial is shot in slow motion and filled with feats of athletic prowess. The confident voiceover takes no prisoners, with statements like, “Around here, we only talk wins,” and “If you know you’re destined for greatness, who can stop you?”
Is this the latest sneaker campaign with LeBron James? Or a beer ad starring the Stanley Cup’s newly minted MVP, Victor Hedman?
Neither, actually. It’s a frame-for-frame homage to sports marketing from heavyweight brands like Gatorade, Nike and Budweiser. More importantly, it’s a plea for sponsors from Special Olympics New York, with the nonprofit celebrating its 50th year by unsubtly pointing out the disparity in corporate dollars that flow to high-profile professional sports.
The 60-second spot—pro bono work from agency Edelman—strips away logos from the three-star athletes’ shoes, water bottles and headphones, leaving room for “Your Brand Here.”
While basketball player Genesis Duran, gymnast Izzy Brinkerhoff and powerlifter Daniel Fletcher show off their skills—and game faces—the fearless voiceover continues. “Let me win,” the narrator says. “But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”
Special Olympics New York operates on revenue “equivalent to 0.03% of the nearly $30 billion” that brands spend on pro sports, according to the organization, which wants to see that number bump up to 1% to “triple the opportunities and support” for the state’s Special Olympians.
On a national level, there’s a blue chip roster of longtime Special Olympics sponsors like Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble and United Airlines. But state and regional Special Olympics programs, such as those in Southern California, Massachusetts, Illinois and Ohio, have to build their own slate of brand partners, made more difficult by the coronavirus pandemic and economic recession.
“It’s clear that these Special Olympics athletes are total badasses, and everyone knows how effective a strategy it is for brands to associate their products with athletes that inspire, so it’s impossible to ignore the disparity in support that exists between Special Olympians and elite athletes or pro sports,” Jesse Suchmann, Edelman’s executive creative director, said. “As we saw Special Olympics programs being cut, we it felt like it was the right time to rethink how brands partner with Special Olympics New York.”
CCO: Jimmie Stone
ECD: Jesse Suchmann
CD: Conor Hogan
ACD: Eden Lewis
CW: Grace Cha
AD: Madelyn Fetzko
AD: Esther Lee
EP: Ari Pomerantz
Producer: Gina LoPinto
Account / PR:
SVP: Gennifer Horowitz
VP: Evelyn Kroenlein
AS: Jon Salas
SAE: Melissa Connolly
SVP: Jeremy Busch
Lead Planner: Danielle Kellner
Comms Planner: Aly Blake
Director: Bobby Carnevale
Rob Finch – Creative Director
Sebastian Weinberg – Production Manager
Chris Janjic – Director of Photography
Whitney Bradshaw – Producer
Grant Flanagan – AC / Gaffer
Ruth Aravena – COVID Safety Coordinator / PA
Emma Decker – Assistant Producer
Amy Polansky Post-Production Manager
Jesse Crowell – Editor
Conner Lee – Motion Graphic Designer
Aubrey Moore – Assistant Editor
The Fans. The Brands. Social Good. The Future of Sports. Don’t miss the upcoming Brandweek Sports Marketing Summit and Upfronts, a live virtual experience on Nov. 16-19. Early-bird passes available until Oct. 26. Register now.