We Choose To Rise – Etihad & Special Olympics

In February 2019 Etihad launched a new campaign spanning television, cinema, online and at-event promotion for its partnership with the Abu Dhabi Special Olympics which aimed to drive awareness, link the brand to the property’s values of tolerance diversity and unity and to demonstrate drive and passion.


Territory: Middle East


Agency: In-House & Dejavu





The Special Olympics, an inclusive, global movement dedicated to changing lives of people with intellectual disabilities of any/every kind, was held in Abu Dhabi in March 2019 and airline Etihad partnered with the event with the aim of supporting the games events and values and to challenge perceptions on ‘people of determination’.


The airline’s aim was to get people from around the world to #MeetTheDetermined and following the event to #BeUnified through an activation programme which set out to focus on the goal and a message, speak to a domestic and international audience.


To achieve this the Etihad marketing team decided that the build up to the event was just as important as the event itself in driving this messaging and so set out to create a pre-Games campaign which fulfilled the following objectives:
> Drive awareness of the Abu Dhabi Special Olympics World Games

> Highlight Etihad as a brand that stands side-by-side in the movement

> Introduce the UAE athlete ambassadors

> Showcase the athletes via content that demonstrates the drive and passion


The work aimed to position the brand positively and deliver visually appealing content across a range of platforms to promote the airline’s involvement with the event.





The strategy was informed through Etihad research which underpinned by Etihad’s business and communications objectives of promoting the themes of tolerance, diversity and inclusion.


From this research, a plan was developed to:
> Celebrating people: via key pre-event pillars such as the arrival of teams in Abu Dhabi, the launch of volunteers programme, cabin crew training and e-learning programme.

> Celebrating aviation: unveil of the event-related livery and the role of Etihad as the official partner airline.

> Celebrating tradition: via the arrival of the torch, through UAE traditions and the current’ ‘Year of Tolerance’.

> Celebrating people of determination: through the idea of ‘We Choose to Rise’.

> Celebrate capabilities, determination, passion and success before, during and after the Games.


The launch campaign centred around a hero film called ‘We Choose To Rise’ which formed the basis of the airline’s activity through the event.


The dramatic, black and white spot showcased some of the Abu Dhabi Special Olympics team playing their chosen sport alongside a narrative highlighting the spirit of the games and reflecting the journey that each featured athlete had been on to succeed.


The spearhead video was released across multiple channels – on in-flight entertainment channels, on Abu Dhabi television, in UAE cinemas, airline and athlete digital and social – and was supported by an Instagram story every other day focusing on one of the athletes and driving viewers to click through to watch the hero video.


The video also aired during the opening and closing ceremonies and it also aired ahead of the opening event Zayd Stadium Fly By of the airline’s Special Olympics liveried jet.



The activation was created in-house by Etihad Airways where the team was led by

Head of Social Media Shefali Vyas, Social Media Manager Rebecca Rogers and produced by Déjà vu Dubai Executive Producer Manasvi Gosalia and Director Darly Goodrich.





According to Etihad, the campaign generated a 4% rise in positive brand sentiment.


The hero film generated a total of 8m views across the airlines own channels and 90% of the social comments on the spot were favourable.



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