Cannes Lions

Special Olympics


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In today’s political climate, there is an overwhelming amount of polarization, covering topics of race, gender, ethnicity, religion, sexuality, etc. Politicians harp on societal difference as a means of political advancement, and curated news content and social media reinforce prejudice on a daily basis. And when it comes to those with intellectual disabilities, this group is marginalized more than any other in the world*. With all this in mind, it has become increasingly difficult to see beyond the negative stereotypes being perpetuated, and celebrate the fundamental qualities we all share. Inclusion is needed now more than ever. (*source: Special Olympics, The Shriver Report Snapshot: Insight into Intellectual Disabilities in the 21stCentury)


Hope is a powerful force. And the more facets of hope we embrace as a society, the greater our ability to break down barriers, uproot misperceptions and transform stereotypes into respect, acceptance and inclusion. In order to foster and promote this sense of hope, and demonstrate our commitment to our Special Olympics partnership, we invited everyone to rally around this word, and help create a more inclusive world. To celebrate the Team USA Special Olympics athletes, we asked consumers to send personal messages of hope via #pickuphope, helping to figuratively pick these athletes up, and carry them all the way to the 2018 Special Olympics Seattle Games. In sharing individual stories of athletes’ extraordinary abilities, on and off the field, we invited consumers to celebrate the resilient spirit of our athletes and cheer them on as they bravely took on their next challenge at the 2018 World Games.


Our challenge: in today’s world, we’re more divided than ever. And those with intellectual disabilities (ID) face the worst of it; they’re more marginalized than any other group in the world.* Yet the real enemy is misperceptions. Ignorant judgements and stereotypes perpetuated from politics and social media cause significant barriers in seeing the fundamental qualities we all share. But, when we stop and listen to the stories of our SO athletes, we not only start to see what we have in common, but how much we have to learn from each other, about ourselves and the world. This lead to our creative strategy: Choosing to include has the power to make a difference in all of us.


We leveraged owned, earned, and paid channels to amplify our message of hope, and engage consumers to #PickUpHope at various touchpoints, culminating in an on-the-ground activation at the Special Olympics World Games in Seattle. We started the campaign by introducing our Special Olympics athletes and their stories on social platforms, engaging consumers and raising awareness of the games. We then inspired consumers to send messages of hope to our athletes using #PickUpHope; these messages were then aggregated and displayed in high-traffic areas such as Bank of America financial centers, the Bank of America Times Square Billboard, and our Fan Zone on the ground at the Seattle Games.


This campaign was successful in both raising awareness of Bank of America’s commitment to Diversity & Inclusion and in driving favorability for the brand, with those exposed to cross-channel video content resulting in a +10pp lift. It also inspired increased engagement; generating 3.4K uses of #PickUpHope on social (20% YOY increase), and 18.9K fans participated with our activations in Seattle and Chicago*. However, our Special Olympic Athletes were able to achieve the highest outcome, taking their increased sense of acceptance, inclusion, and respect, and turning it into gold medals at the Games.

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