Special Olympics World Games

The Special Olympics World Games 2015 was to be the largest sporting event hosted by the city of Los Angeles since the 1984 Olympics. After L.A. won the bid (and Davis Elen was selected as AOR), it quickly became apparent that there was little awareness that about the event or its purpose. To complicate the situation, there was zero funding for the games; all efforts, money and in-kind, needed to be donated.


Beyond building awareness for the Games, we needed to serve a higher purpose of changing people’s perceptions about those who have intellectual disabilities. Without any funding, we needed to secure $71 million to subsidize the games as well as enlist some 30,000 volunteers and draw 200,000 spectators for the week-long event. And we had to do it all with a no-cost media plan!

Key Insight

While attending a regional Special Olympics competition, we observed that whether athletes won or lost in competition, they joyfully threw up their arms in triumph. This gesture spoke volumes about their sense of pride and feelings of accomplishment. Athletic competition gave them the opportunity to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, and experience a joyful sense of community and acceptance.


We created the “Reach Up” pose and logo to embody the athletes’ pride and prowess. Videos and marketing materials of the athletes striking the pose became our theme to inspire donations and create awareness all over Los Angeles.


The Special Olympics World Games 2015 were the most successful World Games ever:

1Sold out Opening Ceremonies with a record 62,338 in attendance

2First ever live games broadcast on ESPN in 170 countries to more than 20 million viewers

3Attendance of 247,249 for the weeklong event surpassed client’s goal


Funds Raised (75% from Sponsors)


Donated Media

4 billion

Social Media Impressions Worldwide