Even though he was born without legs, Blake Leeper never saw himself as different or disabled. Against every odd, he overcame the hurdles in his life to become a multi-record-holding Paralympic track-and-field champion. Blake was set to become only the second Paralympian ever to run against able-bodied athletes in the 2020 Olympics. But when the games got delayed to 2021, an oversight ruling body declared his prosthetic blades gave him an unfair advantage. And so, one of the fastest athletes in the world would not go on to compete in Tokyo. It was this story that compelled us to spotlight and follow Blake Leeper’s journey, and make him an advocate for Facebook Portal’s mission to “share something real.” It was a chance for this Paralympic runner to share his story in hopes of breaking stereotypes and barriers.
In this social campaign for Facebook Portal, we tell Blake’s story over various touchpoints and dive into the aftermath of that life-changing verdict that prevented him from going to the Olympic games.
The story we focused on is one of persistence, determination, and acceptance. Through the connective power of various Portal devices, we demonstrate how invaluable the support of loved ones can be during life’s most challenging times. In the hero film, we see touches of Portal moments that culminate in a real-time surprise group call from Blake’s network – everyone from relatives to his coach and his elementary school teacher. In this emotional moment, we bring together the people who matter the most to this champion and offer him the support he needs to keep pushing and striving forward to create meaningful change at the highest levels of sports competition.
The campaign featured the hero video, which was pushed out over Facebook Portal’s organic social channels. In addition, Blake hosted a live Ask Me Anything over Instagram Live, speaking about the virtues of self-worth and how the right mindset is key for any champion. Finally, we hosted a one-on-one conversation with another marginalized athlete who did not quality to compete in the summer games – CeCe Telfer, a trans track and field athlete. Together, she and Blake shared an open and honest conversation around how their differences made them stronger as athletes and competitors.
Through the power of Facebook Portal, we showed that even though we can’t always be together, life’s biggest hurdles don’t have to be faced alone.
Overall, the “Fastest Man With No Legs” campaign exceeded expectations and was a huge success for Facebook Portal, garnering 4.2 million impressions with a 87% positive sentiment from the audience.
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