Creative in association withGear Seven

Special Olympics Campaign Proves There's No Special Treatment in Sport

Advertising Agency
Toronto, Canada
Grey Canada launches inspiring new campaign featuring powerlifter Jackie Barrett

GREY Canada announced today the launch of a new national communications campaign for Special Olympics Canada in the lead up to this year’s World Summer Games in Los Angeles. The multi-channel program, entitled There Is No Special Treatment, celebrates sport as the great equalizer; an athlete is an athlete no matter what games they are competing in or what their background is. 

Established in 1969, the Canadian chapter of this international movement is dedicated to enriching the lives of Canadians with an intellectual disability through the transformative power and joy of sport. More than 38,000 Canadian athletes with an intellectual disability are registered in Special Olympics Canada’s year-round programs - supported by more than 17,000 volunteers, including more than 13,000 trained coaches. The organization has been a client partner of GREY’s for over 25 years.

“Special Olympics Canada is extremely grateful for, and excited about, the There Is No Special Treatment campaign delivered by long-time partner GREY Canada. The launch of the campaign is a culmination of countless hours and resources, delivering on a message that resonates deeply with our athletes and their families,” says Sharon Bollenbach, Special Olympics Canada’s CEO. “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.”

Creative for the campaign focuses on one key insight: Sport doesn’t see disability - the challenge, sacrifice and fulfillment of sport treats every athlete exactly the same. No matter who you are. Sport is sport – it doesn’t treat anyone special. GREY proactively developed the campaign over the course of a year for Special Olympics after attending an inspiring athlete recognition event early in 2014. The integrated advertising campaign will include film, print, radio, digital as well as social activations. 

“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,” says James Ansley, Creative Director with GREY Canada. “Getting to work with these athletes and see them perform up close was an amazing experience.” 

The films feature Special Olympics athletes in training and incorporate voiceovers by Special Olympics athletes Tess Trojan and Matthew Nighswander. Jackie Barrett, a world-class powerlifter, who recently lifted 690 lbs., is featured with swimmer Julia Longo and Champion runner Robert Pipitone in the 60-second launch spot entitled “SPORT”. 

"I am honoured and proud to have been one of the narrators for this campaign. The campaign shows me that Special Olympics Canada stands behind every one of its athletes and encourages us to do our best,” says Matthew Nighswander. “It also shows Canadians what Special Olympics athletes can achieve when given a chance. Finally, it gave me an opportunity to do the public speaking I love, and be part of something that promotes inclusion and allows me to contribute to my community, my country and society."

There Is No Special Treatment will launch through paid and donated media placements as well as its in-kind partners’ media channels. These include donated media space from TSN, RDS, the Toronto Sun, The Globe and Mail as well as through Tim Hortons’ in-store media network, Tim’s TV. 

The campaign was developed in conjunction with a number of production partners who generously donated their services including Hubert Davis (Untitled Films), Matt Barnes (Westside Studio) and Adam Damelin (Eggplant). Media planning support has been provided by MediaCom. 

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