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Special Olympics Goes for “Shock Value”

Glint Adv - April 28, 2009 - 0 comments

We have recently viewed the latest marketing efforts of the Special Olympics, which spawned from an inappropriate comment from President Barack Obama on the Tonight Show. We won’t go into the comment Obama made here, just the advertising efforts approved by the Special Olympics and produced by DDB Needham (a very large, national advertising agency) in response to it.

Although the work developed by DDB Needham is creative, we believe the campaign was produced pro bono for the glory of the agency, and not the benefit of the client. Glint Advertising & Design has been a long-time supporter of the Special Olympics, and unfortunately, their approval of such marketing give us pause for further support. As a father with two young sons, I have tried to teach them to see individuals for their own unique abilities, not reinforcing the differences. The advertising messaging developed for the Special Olympics perpetuates not only the stereotype against people with disabilities, but also against other ethnic and religious groups.

One image of the campaign is shown above, others can be viewed at

We understand wanting to rid the world of words like “retarded,” but the comparisons used are inappropriate and certainly not what I expect from an organization that promotes dignity in the people it helps serve. This campaign was not thought through and shame on the agency and the non-profit for not knowing where to draw the line.

Agree or disagree with Glint Advertising’s view, its causing some people to rethink the Special Olympics and what their mission really is. To learn more about our agency, visit us online at or call 817-616-0320.

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