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Paralympics Ad Campaign: ‘What’s Your Excuse?’

July 14, 1995

ATLANTA (AP) _ The Paralympic Games, an Olympic-style event for physically disabled athletes that is struggling to find an audience, has unveiled a brash advertising campaign that asks: ``What’s Your Excuse?″

The campaign, unveiled Thursday, seeks to build awareness for the Games and to dispel the notion that people with disabilities should be pitied.

One print ad, featuring an amputee long jumper, says: ``Al Mead Has One Leg _ He Uses it to Kick Butt.″

Fast-paced television ads showing the athletes in action say, ``There are no hopeless bodies, only hopeless hearts. What’s your excuse?″

``These ads were not created to make you cry. They were created to make you dance,″ said Atlanta advertising executive Joey Reiman, who developed the campaign.

The 1996 Paralympics will be held in Atlanta next summer, 12 days after the Olympic Games. Some of the events will be held at Olympic venues.

The organizers of the Paralympics have confronted fund-raising difficulties and widespread ignorance about their Games. Concern has been expressed that the sheer volume and television exposure of the Olympics may leave little appetite for the Paralympics.

Marc Hamburger, a Coca-Cola Co. marketing executive on loan to the Atlanta Paralympic Organizing Committee, said the Paralympic Games can be a huge success if it is sold right.

``The market is definitely there. The key to success is reaching people with a relevant, intrusive, meaningful message,″ Hamburger said.

The ads will run initially in the Southeast as public service spots. Organizers are hoping that by early 1995 the ads will have created enough interest _ and financing _ to go national with paid spots.

APOC President Andy Fleming acknowledged the challenge of spreading the word with tight resources. The committee is about halfway toward its goal of raising $100 million.

``We’ll need to be more creative in spending our scarce resources on this campaign.″ Fleming said.

The ad campaign itself is an example. Reiman created the ads at no charge.

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