Commentary

Special Olympics USA Games Marketing, Business Support Has Been 'Off The Charts'

The top soccer players on the planet are now at the FIFA World Cup in Russia, but a group of equally dedicated and focused athletes will compete for their own trophies and face their own challenges next week at the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle.

More than 4,000 athletes and coaches, family members, volunteers and fans are expected for the event (July 1-6) in the University of Washington’s Husky Stadium, and while you won’t see these competitors on boxes of cereals or selling sports shoes on TV, marketers are aware of the power they have and the impact they make on others.

“The business community’s support for the 2018 USA Games has been off the charts,” said Beth Knox, president and CEO for the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games. “Its success will be due in part to our corporate partners and our shared commitment to furthering the ideals of inclusion.” 

Among the companies aligned with the 2018 USA Games are premier partner Microsoft; platinum partners Bank of America, Coca-Cola, ESPN and Kaiser Permanente; gold medal partners KPMG, Paccar and United Airlines; silver medal partners including Boeing, Brooks, Finish Line, Starbucks and T-Mobile; and bronze medal partners including Alaska Airlines and Hasbro.

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The USA Games are also being supported by a roster of local and regional companies, organizations and such sports teams as the Seattle Mariners (MLB), Seahawks (NFL), Sounders (MLS), Storm (WNBA), Major League Rugby’s Seawolves and the Reign of the National Women’s Soccer League.

The Special Olympics USA Games have had multi-media marketing, including TV, Internet, social media (#RiseWithUs) and activation in communities nationwide.

Special Olympics partner WWE has been supporting the USA Games via its global platform, including the WWE Network, TV, digital and social media and during live events. 

At the 2018 USA Games themselves, WWE Superstars will be on-site for daily autograph signings, medal presentations and at the July 1 Opening Ceremony.

The Opening Ceremony will air nationwide on ABC (scheduled to begin 3:30 PM ET) with a live two-and-a-half hour special.

Lead media partner ESPN’s coverage of the USA Games runs July 2 - 6 with coverage including competitions, feature stories, interviews and news coverage on SportsCenter.

According to Brad Smith, Microsoft president and honorary chairman of the 2018 USA Games, “We’ve partnered with Special Olympics since 2014, using cloud-based data management to transform how the games are run and how athletes are cared for, while supporting the group’s efforts to build a more inclusive global community.”

Among the activations:

• Accenture is the official sponsor of gymnastics and a presenting sponsor of the Future of Inclusion Forum (July 2).

• Holland America Line is presenting sponsor of the 2018 USA Games Art Murals.

• Tommy Hilfiger throughout the week will showcase its new line of clothing, “Tommy Hilfiger Adaptive,” described as a lifestyle collection for adults and children incorporating inclusive design solutions that make getting dressed easy. 

• Lyft will provide “convenient and discounted transportation” for the athletes, coaches and families attending the USA Games.

• Nordstrom is the presenting sponsor of the Special Olympics Young Athletes Festival (geared for kids ages 2 - 7). 

• Walmart is the presenting sponsor of the 2018 USA Games Family Program. 

• The Walt Disney Company is the presenting sponsor of the 2018 USA Games Volunteer Program. Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., has been named host for the 2022 USA Games.

• Amazon, the presenting sponsor for the Special Olympics USA Games Closing Ceremony, said that people who shop at smile.amazon.com can designate “Special Olympics USA Games” and have the Amazon Smile Foundation donate 0.5% of the purchase price from eligible products to the 2018 USA Games.

USA Games events include basketball, bocce, bowling, flag football, golf, gymnastics, power lifting, soccer, softball, stand-up paddle board, swimming, tennis and volleyball.

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