From the sponsorship campaign of Special Olympics Belgium.
(Special Olympics Belgium)
Against the background of the increasing polarization in Israeli society, accepting the other and the different is no longer just a cliché, and brands that apply it in their marketing gain wide sympathy.
Ahead of the launch of her campaign to recruit sponsors for the Olympic competitions, we sat down for a conversation with Sharon Levy Belanga, CEO of Special Olympics Israel, to hear how people with disabilities are integrated into commercial campaigns, and why do it at all?
What are the considerations for choosing a presenter with a disability for a commercial campaign?
"When the marketing manager has to make a decision on how to promote the product or service that the company provides, she looks at a variety of considerations: what sells, what the target audience is interested in, budgetary considerations, public mindset, and much more."
"The main consideration today for the inclusion of people with disabilities in campaigns is the appropriation of messages of acceptance of the different and the other for the brand, and the mobilization of budgets from corporate responsibility, which goes hand in hand with the branding and marketing arm of the company. Of course, there are also cases of a personal touch to the matter, for example when one of the company's executives has a child Or a girl with an intellectual disability," says Sharon.
Among the prominent Israeli advertisers that used presenters with disabilities are Unilever and Bank Hapoalim with campaigns that received a lot of attention.
"But, and this is a big but, brands that are already choosing a presenter with a disability for a campaign will usually choose Paralympic athletes with a physical disability, while presenters with Down syndrome or autism are still very rare in the advertising landscape," says Sharon.
"A possible explanation for this is that as a war-torn country, we have become accustomed to seeing amputees or in wheelchairs, while intellectual disability is still seen as something unusual, incomprehensible and even threatening."
This of course does not deter Sharon: "Every week we hold discussions with advertisers on the issue, but to date no Israeli brand has gone all the way. A number of local authorities have given scholarships to their athletes and the Ministry of Sports assists in promoting the receipt of budgets. When the state begins to support a certain segment and place trust in it , the advertisers are also coming after her and that is our hope."
Today, the company is in the midst of a campaign to recruit brands to finance the participation of Israeli athletes in competitions.
How do brands respond to your campaign, and what are the actual results?
Above all, we found people who want to do good for the athletes and for society.
Marketing managers and CEOs who were looking to simply do good. In addition, the organization itself was important, that is, huge brands that are looking to sponsor sports activities will generally want to work with a serious and well-known organization. As an international organization that was established in 1968, and currently operates in more than 170 countries , including the Olympic Games, we found here that companies are looking for an organization to walk hand in hand with for many years.
Just before an Olympic athlete begins his training routine for the Olympics, he is already established with a serious entourage that includes a brand that sponsors him and finances his activities.
In recent years, the opportunity has also opened up for Paralympic athletes, Olympic athletes with physical disabilities (amputees, disabled, etc.). The State of Israel hastened to recognize these athletes and even budgeted them NIS 14 million in the last year, some of them presenters, brand ambassadors, etc. For example: the amputee sprinter Eitan Hermon, who broke the running record at the London Olympics, is the Scoone ambassador in Israel. As soon as the state recognizes and supports budgets in a certain segment, the advertisers also join in the celebration
Furthermore, the management of the Israeli organization turned to the international organization for assistance and the latter directed it to a campaign that was a huge success in Belgium, when it brought sponsorship contracts to 16 Special Olympics athletes in Belgium.
The campaign had three main goals:
The exposure of the athletes and the activity, since the more they are exposed, the easier it is for the public to "accept" their appearance.
Receiving budgets from state bodies, such as government ministries and other organizations.
Attracting brands and advertisers to sponsor the organization's athletes.
The campaign was defined as a huge success after it generated 34 requests for meetings and 16 new contracts, about 33% above the goal, which were also longer.
If before the campaign most contracts were signed for one or two years, following the campaign the company was able to close contracts for three to five years.
In the case of Special Olympics Israel, unfortunately, despite a warm meeting with Sports Minister Miki Zohar who approved the transfer of an initial budget for the activity, the recognition is still on the way and so are the big budgets.
And if the state sits on the fence, then that's what the advertisers are doing too.
Why is it important and to whom?
"Unequivocally, for all of us. To reveal to the world the tremendous abilities inherent in people with developmental intellectual disabilities, thus bringing about their integration into society. When society piles difficulties on people with disabilities, we all lose an opportunity - people with disabilities lose the ability to experience success, and we as a society lose the The opportunity to be an inclusive and inclusive society."
"Choosing a presenter with an intellectual and developmental disability undoubtedly creates a statement that a certain brand or service does not take notice of the different and the other in society, and even works and invests resources in integrating them into society. A presenter with an intellectual and developmental disability who is also an athlete boosts this statement by hundreds of meters, since the brand also promotes activity values physical, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and succeeding in challenges despite the difficulty or limitation."
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