By Barry Janoff
April 16, 2015: With the NBA and NHL playoffs underway and the MLB and MLS seasons ramping up to speed, marketers, media, participating athletes and coaches and other supporters are rallying behind another key sports event: the Special Olympics World Games Los Angeles 2015.
April 16 marks the 100 Day Countdown to the Games, which will be held July 25-Aug. 2 and is expected to include 7,000 athletes and 3,000 coaches representing 177 countries, 30,000 volunteers and an anticipated 500,000 spectators
Organizers are calling it the "single biggest event in Los Angeles since the 1984 Olympic Games."
According to LA2015 President and CEO, Patrick McClenahan, “Today is an exciting moment as in just 100 days, Los Angeles will welcome athletes from around the world as they strive to be the best that they can be with courage, determination and joy. I know Los Angeles and all of Southern California will cheer on these incredible athletes at this once-in-a-lifetime event.”
Special Olympics World Games Los Angeles Founding Champions and partners include AEG, Bank of America, Coca-Cola, Finish Line, Mattel, NBA, NCAA, Procter & Gamble, Safeway, Toyota, Toys R Us, U.S. Golf Assn., Kate Capshaw & Steven Spielberg, Kaiser Permanente, The David Geffen Foundation, WWE, The Walt Disney Company and The Knights of Columbus.
“It’s a natural fit,” Julie Kessler, director for Special Olympics World Games 2015, Coca-Cola, which has been a Special Olympics partner for almost a half-century, said in a statement. “Special Olympics and Coca-Cola both champion acceptance and celebrate the courage, determination and joy of these incredible athletes.”
Coke’s support of the Games extends to the market via a commemorative 8-oz. glass bottle, outdoor advertising and retail promotions encouraging consumers to support Special Olympics by volunteering or donating.
“What we’ve heard over and over from our colleagues is that when they have the opportunity to volunteer with Special Olympics, they feel like they get far more back from the experience than they put in through interaction with these inspiring athletes and their families,” said Kessler. “We hope to ‘paint the stands red’ to show our support.
Also launching today is Toyota’s Special Olympics digital hub — “Journey to the Games” — which the automaker said would showcase Toyota’s various activities leading up to the World Games this summer and throughout the Games itself.
Toyota activation includes in-store activations and events at Toyota dealers and support from Team Toyota Nascar driver Clint Bowyer.
“This is an incredible opportunity to support a truly global event and we’re taking a holistic approach, from our sponsorship investment at the national level, support vehicles and engaging local fundraising efforts across the country to the hundreds of Toyota employees who will volunteer at the World Games,” Jim Lentz, CEO of Toyota North America, said in a statement. “The world is coming to Los Angeles and we are proud to join the Special Olympics World Games and support our shared values of acceptance and inclusion.”
ESPN, the official media partner of the Special Olympics World Games Los Angeles 2015 (LA2015), used the 100 Day Countdown to unveil its coverage plans, which will begin July 25 with live coverage of the Opening Ceremony inn the Los Angeles memorial Coliseum (9 PM ET) and run through the Closing Ceremonies.
Coverage will air primarily on ESPN, with some programs appearing on ABC or ESPN2. All ESPN and ESPN2 programs will also be simulcast on WatchESPN.
ESPN said its nightly studio programs would "deliver stories, vignettes and features from around the World Games, as well as recapping the key results from each days’ competitions.
In addition, ESPN’s coverage will go global via ESPN networks and through syndication partners.
Toys R Us said today that a recent campaign hosted in its stores across the U.S. and online at Toysrus.com to benefit Special Olympics raised more than $2 million.
Beginning May 26 and running through July 10, the Unified Relay Across America presented by Bank of America will see participants relay the Flame of Hope via three simultaneous cross-country routes, covering all 50 states, which will converge in Los Angeles on July 10 prior to the World Games.
Among the more more than 20,000 participants who will run, walk or bike over 10,000 segments of the relay covering a total of 21,000 miles are 20 Olympic medalists.
According to the Special Olympics committee, the list includes gymnasts Bart Conner, Nadia Comaneci and Nastia Liukin; American figure skaters Scott Hamilton and Michelle Kwan; snowboarder Hannah Teter, American short track speed skater Apolo Ohno, American speed skater Casey FitzRandolph, former pro basketball players Sam Perkins and Ruth Riley; swimmers Donna de Varona, John Naber and Jessica Hardy; soccer player Kristine Lilly; and freestyle skier Ashley Caldwell.
In conjunction with the United Relay, singer Avril Lavigne has released via iTunes, the song and related video, "Fly," which will, through the Avril Lavigne Foundation, support Special Olympics and the World Games Los Angeles.
“The Special Olympics World Games is a truly compelling event, filled with some of the most extraordinary sports stories and people you will ever see, and we are looking forward to showcasing them,” Russell Wolff, evp-ESPN International, said of the event. “Sports has the power to be unifying, uplifting and life-changing, and this event will be a remarkable and tangible example of that power.”
Special Olympics World Games will see competitors in 25 Olympic-type sports: Aquatics, Athletics, Badminton, Basketball, Bocce, Bowling, Cycling, Equestrian, Football, Golf, Gymnastics, Half Marathon, Handball, Judo, Kayaking, Open Water Swimming, Powerlifting, Roller Skating, Sailing, Softball, Table Tennis, Tennis, Triathlon, Volleyball and Beach Volleyball.
Marketing Partners Begin One Year Countdown To Special Olympics Games
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