Powerade shows how sport empowers athletes

The Coca-Cola brand's end-of-year campaign helped the Special Olympics celebrate its 50th anniversary.

Powerade recently teamed up with the Canadian arm of the Special Olympics to help the international sports body celebrates its 50th anniversary.

Launched in November, a campaign dubbed “Finish Lines” featured Special Olympics Canada (SOC) athletes Meg Ohsada, a figure skater from Canmore, A.B., and Peter Snider, a track runner from Waterloo, Ont. Both athletes have stood on the podium for Canada.

The campaign highlights both their personal journeys through sport, including the hard work and training required to succeed, and the empowerment and personal development that it can lead to outside of the arena.

The campaign was developed by Mosaic, with support from Carat on media.

The goal was to drive awareness of the Special Olympics’ 50th anniversary, says Megan Jones, assistant manager, marketing assets and partnerships at Coca-Cola, which owns the Powerade brand. “By supporting a longstanding partner, we were also able to deepen our connection with our community and demonstrate the brand’s authentic tone through the lens of the athlete journey.”

Sam Jacobs, brand manager at Coca-Cola, adds that the campaign aligns with Powerade’s “Always Forward” positioning by drawing attention to the athletes’ determination and talent, with the goal of tackling some of the stigmas and barriers faced by Special Olympics athletes. At its core, he says the work was built around the insight that all athletes, no matter their level or experience, are on a “journey of sacrifice, resilience and empowerment.”

Jacobs says the campaign was intended to reflect the values of Powerade’s target, namely Gen X consumers, parents and what the company refers to as “home category managers” – consumers who are passionate about causes, particularly those that support local communities.

In the past, Powerade has leveraged world-renowned athletes like soccer player Jozy Altidore and NHLer Steven Stamkos. This year, it wanted to give that space to SOC athletes in order to showcase their “raw, authentic stories, to have them gain their rightful place as heroes,” Jacobs says. “Campaigns like these are important because it demonstrates that people of all abilities can be united through sport, friendship and community.”