'Gritty reality' of Paralympians shines in APC's funds push

'Gritty reality' of Paralympians shines in APC's funds push
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To get Australia’s athletes to the 2014 Sochi Paralympic Games the Australian Paralympic Committee (APC) has left its usual advertising tactics behind and embarked on an “edgier” fundraising campaign.

The new campaign, ‘Believe’, needs to raise $200,000 within 44 days to be able to send more than 160 athletes to the Sochi Games. The total cost of sending the Team is expected to be roughly $1.5m.

Ian Laing, the APC’s general manager of commercial, told B&T the MercerBell creative shows the “gritty reality” of competing at the Paralympic level.

“The 4am starts, the hard yards in the gym, sacrificing their careers and love lives and everything else that they put on hold while they pursue their dream,” is on display in the fundraising push Laing said.

The tactic is a departure from the APC’s usual advertising which in the past has leant towards showing athletes proudly collecting their medals.

“We have perhaps missed an opportunity historically, and what came shinning through in the research, was that our donors need to feel better connected to the journey of the athlete,” Laing explained.

“When you show someone in a shiny tracksuit with a lovely gold medal it doesn’t necessarily scream out to the donor that these guys need support because it looks like the hard work is done, we got there and everything is rosy.

“That kind of imagery can certainly work when you are saying ‘thank you’ to your donors but in terms of an acquisition strategy we needed to show what the athletes put themselves through on a day-to-day basis to get success at the Paralympic Games.”

Research conducted by the APC also revealed a “huge amount of latent support” for the athletes. The insight prompted the organisation to stand back and allow the athletes to be the campaign heroes. “We have been a little too focused on our own activities in the past,” Laing added.

Fronting the campaign are six Paralympic athletes including gold medallist Kurt Fearnley, swimmer Ahmed Kelly and alpine skier Victoria Pendergast who is currently preparing for Sochi.

The campaign asks the public to ‘pledge their belief’ in the Paralympic Team and includes a microsite, eDMS and banner ads as well as digital and social activity.

The campaign, which brought together MercerBell, H+K Strategies and PHD, will live on beyond the Sochi Games and fund the Team’s trip to Rio in 2016.

The APC’s research revealed a big misconception, with more than 50% of the public not realising the APC is a charity that relies on public support.

“We are lucky to get some good support from the government and our corporate sponsors but, quite simply, we always need more.

“The cost of sending a team to the London Games for example was a $7m investment. All of that $7m is self-generated the federal government funding that we receive goes into our day-to-day operations and helping the sports federations deliver their Paralympic work.

“It is really through our fundraising and our own sponsorship program that we generate our Games funds.”

The campaign is expected to grow over time to include more marketing and experiential activations with video and TV advertising a possibility.

All funds raised by ‘Belive’ will go towards helping the Paralympic Team reach their full potential and attend the Paralympic Games.

In addition to 160-plus athletes APC hopes to send to Sochi there is all the support stuff to send as well including physiotherapists, psychologists, nutritionists and more.

H+K Strategies offered their communications and media work pro-bono while the APC received charity rates from MercerBell and PHD.

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