#PasstheFlame Bank of America & Special Olympics
There are 200 million people in the world with intellectual disabilities (ID) — roughly 3% of the global population making it the world’s largest disability group and one of the most marginalized populations on the planet. Special Olympics exists to help individuals with ID break down barriers through the power of sports — and create a stronger, more inclusive world.
The 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Los Angeles presented an opportunity for long-term corporate partner Bank of America to take their 30-year partnership with Special Olympics to a new level. Together, they staged the first-ever Unified Relay Across America (URAA) — organizing more than 10,000 torchbearer participants and support volunteers to walk, run and wheel the Special Olympic Flame of Hope from Greece through all 50 states to start the World Games in Los Angeles.
To support the 46-day effort, the partners created a participative movement for inclusion and respect, inviting people to declare their support and #PassTheFlame to connect people everywhere to the torch relay, the World Games and the mission of Special Olympics.
Messaging strategies included:
-A TV Spot featuring Special Olympics athlete and Bank of America employee, Kenny Jones, asking viewers to join the #PassTheFlame movement. The spot ran throughout the World Games on ESPN and was featured in various other channels.
-Outreach to people around the globe, who were asked to personally engage with the movement by creating unique and shareable messages of why or for whom they #PassTheFlame
-A series of personal Special Olympics athlete stories that ran on Bank of America’s social and digital channels, as well as on ESPN.com, and were collectively viewed more than 10 million times on bank owned channels alone.
-Coverage on ESPN that featured a correspondent who was also a Special Olympics athlete.
-Window and in-store displays in Bank of America Financial Centers that brought the movement closer to home and encouraged local participation in the Relay
-Celebrity athletes that shared social posts and real-time updates from the torch Relay
-A massive employee engagement effort that included CEO and senior leader town halls, broadcasts, offsites and local market engagement activities that resulted in more than 4,500 Bank of America employees volunteering in various capacities.
In the end, all those views, shares, likes and miles marched carrying the Flame of Hope added up to the single most impactful fundraising event in Special Olympics history, raising $4.3 million from more than 18,000 individual donors. More importantly, the partnership helped change hearts and minds. Pre and post attitudinal tracking clearly showed important gains in understanding and awareness around Intellectual Disabilities.