Grey and Special Olympics Canada launch new campaign

"There Is No Special Treatment" debuts ahead of the Games in LA this summer

A grueling run or intense gym session can often serve as a harsh reminder that there are no shortcuts in athletic pursuits.

Likewise, a new multi-channel campaign for Special Olympics Canada seeks to remind us that sport can be the great equalizer—time, distance and gravity affect everyone during competition.

Titled “There Is No Special Treatment,” the new campaign from Grey Canada is anchored by a minute-long, black-and-white spot showcasing three Special Olympics athletes in pursuit of excellence.

Special Olympics Canada CEO Sharon Bollenbach said the organization is both grateful and excited.

“It is our hope that this campaign will remind all Canadians that individuals with an intellectual disability can and will succeed when given a chance, and ultimately help inspire more athletes, coaches, volunteers and donors to join the Special Olympics movement,” she said.

The creative, which features four video segments, will roll out over donated and paid media placements, with TSN, the Toronto Sun and the Globe and Mail offering donated spots ahead of the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games, which take place in Los Angeles from July 25 to August 2.

Official sponsor Tim Hortons and its “in-store media network” will also showcase the campaign on a donation basis, with social media engagement and digital platforms also included in the plan.

Grey Canada team members developed the creative during a year-long process, which was kickstarted after an inspiring athletic awards event in early 2014.

Grey creative director James Ansley said the goal was to put the athletes at the centre of the creative campaign.

“Speaking to these athletes, I was blown away by the intensity and dedication they bring to their respective sports. I knew we had to share their stories,” he said.

“Getting to work with these athletes and see them perform up close was an amazing experience.”

The first of the video spots shows footage of three world-class Special Olympics athletes in training, and the stark images are matched with voiceovers.

Jackie Barrett, an elite weightlifter, is featured alongside national swimming champion Julia Longo and 100-meter sprinting champ Robert Pipitone.

“Sport, it doesn’t care what you were born with,” says narrator and Special Olympics street hockey medalist Matthew Nighswander. “It doesn’t stare at you when you walk down the street or concern itself with some expert’s diagnosis … It will never go easy on you just because life can be hard.”

While Grey handled the creative and oversaw the production, Hubert Davis of Untitled Films directed the four spots, while Matt Barnes of WestSide Studios shot photos for the print portion of the campaign.

Meanwhile, MediaCom is handling media planning support.

The Canadian chapter of the Special Olympics, which was founded in 1969, counts some 38,000 athletes with an intellectual disability and 17,000 volunteers among its ranks.

Grey has been working with Special Olympics Canada for more than 25 years.

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