Special Olympics provides sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage and experience joy with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community. Coca-Cola has sponsored Special Olympics since its inception in 1968.
The “Coke Red Ribbon Friends” campaign invited 100 Korean celebrities to sport Coca-Cola Red Ribbons and use their collective star power, social media networks and public appearances to promote the Special Olympics mission to foster acceptance and inclusion of all people.
More than 30 power bloggers in Korea served as Coca-Cola ambassadors before and during the Games in Pyeongchang, which also will host the Winter Olympic Games in 2018. This group of influential “Coke Friends” shared images and stories of the celebs who proudly wore Coca-Cola Red Ribbons in public or on TV and promoted the Special Olympics movement by posting Coca-Cola Red Ribbon banners on their blogs, hosting a unified virtual cheering event and reporting on the Games in real time.
The Coke Friends continued their ambassadorship in Pyeongchang by delivering vivid stories from the Coca-Cola Happiness House, where athletes, friends, families and fans gathered to relax, refresh and have fun.
“Any time I thought of sports and Coca-Cola, the Olympics and FIFA World Cup used to come to mind. Now it is Special Olympics, without a doubt,” said a Coke Friend who blogs under the moniker of Hur writer. “It was gratifying to spread the meaning of Special Olympics to other people, and I am very happy that I am able to participate in such a meaningful event.”
Coca-Cola associates in Korea were at the heart of the ambassador program. Employees visited Angels Heaven, a facility for people with intellectual disabilities, in December to deliver funds raised through a special year-end auction, and several knitted scarves as a gesture of encouragement to the Special Olympics athletes competing in Pyeongchang. A group of of 12 employee ambassadors (five from Korea and seven from China) were selected for an on-site volunteer program, too.
Korean consumers also had several opportunities to show their support, starting with the Coke Gift Pang mobile and social media game during the holidays. Coca-Cola Korea made a donation to Special Olympics under the names of the top-ranking players. Customers such as McDonald’s and GS25 supported Special Olympics, too, through partnership marketing programs.
More than 2,300 athletes from 110 countries competed in eight Olympic-type sports at the 2013 Special Olympics World Winter Games: alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, speed skating, figure skating, floor hockey and a demonstration sport of floor ball. Coca-Cola Korea hydrated the athletes and tens of thousands of family members, friends, volunteers and fans.
Globally renowned democracy leader and Nobel Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi joined Coca-Cola Chairman and CEO Muhtar Kent at the first-ever Special Olympics Global Development Summit held in conjunction with the Games. Leaders from business, government and civil society addressed obstacles faced by people with intellectual disabilities around the world, and how to improve their access to health care, education, housing and employment.
Kent, who serves on the board of Special Olympics International, invited Aung San Suu Kyi to give the event’s keynote speech. They met last fall when Coca-Cola resumed operations in Myanmar for the first time in nearly 60 years.
Aung San Suu Kyi has played an important role in helping open up her native country. For two decades, she led a non-violent, pro-democracy movement despite being kept under house arrest by the Southeast Asian nation’s military leaders for 15 years. She was released in 2010 and is now Chairperson and General Secretary of the National League of Democracy for Burma.
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