The Special Olympics are not just a major sporting event, but also a cornerstone of the global movement for inclusion and acceptance of all people, regardless of ability or disability. Bank of America has been a global partner of the Special Olympics since 2003, and the company has collaborated with the organization for nearly 40 years. When the Special Olympics USA Games came to Orlando, Florida in 2022, the bank wanted to highlight both the athletic competition and the games’ spirit of inclusion on its social media channels. However, corporate support for sporting events is commonplace and people rarely take notice of which companies are involved in which events. The challenge was to find a way to break through the noise and get consumers to take notice of the message at the heart of the Special Olympics: that we can help to make the world a better, healthier and more joyful place through inclusion and community.
The Special Olympics are fundamentally about people. The games are a showcase of what people can accomplish when they set their minds to it and why an inclusive world is a better world. Starting from this premise, it was clear to Bank of America that its social media content related to the Special Olympics needed to be about people, too.
Instead of relying on the company’s voice, Bank of America let individuals carry the conversation. The storytelling related to the Special Olympics unfolded across multiple channels, including the company’s Twitter handle (@BankofAmerica) and the personal Twitter and LinkedIn profiles of Holly O’Neill, the Bank’s president of retail banking. Holly attended the Special Olympics USA Games in person, allowing her to post authentic observations and images from the ground to her social handles.
The main element of Bank of America’s storytelling was a Twitter Spaces conversation on July 19, 2022, that included Holly; John Jordan, who, as the Head of The Academy at Bank of America, leads global learning, enterprise onboarding and skills development for the company’s 200,000+ employees; Tim Shriver, the chairman of the Special Olympics; and Kiera Byland, a Special Olympics athlete. Together, the four spoke not just about the athletic competition, but also about the importance of inclusion and accessibility in everyday life.
Holly also made that connection in an article on her LinkedIn profile in which she discussed her experience in Orlando alongside her focus on ensuring accessibility is ever-present in Bank of America’s digital and retail experiences for clients. Under the hashtag #ShineAsOne, Bank of America successfully conveyed the importance of inclusion and accessibility by letting people, not the company, do the talking.
Across five tweets and one LinkedIn post, Bank of America’s Special Olympics storytelling garnered a total of 77 retweets and 450 likes. Holly O’Neill’s LinkedIn longform article generated more than 5,000 impressions. 626 people tuned into the Twitter Spaces conversation on July 19, which was then transferred to YouTube where it’s been listened to another 860 times.
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