IOC Encourages People To Share Exercise Activity To 'Light Up' Refugee Camp

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has launched a new, integrated, global brand campaign called ‘Become The Light’ that encourages people to share their exercise activity through the Olympic Channel, promote the concept of ‘Olympism’ and light-up a refugee camp

The campaign will run up until the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics and its broad objective is to promote the Olympic values of ‘excellence’, ‘friendship’ and ‘respect’ with the winter-themed creative revolving around the use of ‘light’ as a symbolic representation of these values.

Hubbed around The Olympic Channel itself, the campaign is fronted by a set of Public Service Announcements (PSAs) which spearhead the rights-holder's message that the inspirational achievements of athletes and the Olympic spirit can motivate people around the world to ‘Become The Light’ and act as beacons of positivity.

There four films in the PSA series - directed by the award-winning Jaron Albertin and produced by Smuggler Films - are being broadcast globally in collaboration with the IOC’s international network of broadcast partners.

All the creative includes a call-to-action inviting viewers to participate through the Olympic Channel campaign hub

The channel forms the digital fulcrum of the campaign and on it members of the public can sign up through Olympic+ through on the campaign homepage, link up their fitness trackers and record their physical contribution as ‘sparks’. Participants can also compare their activity to the overall Olympic+ Community, their friends and Olympians.

The cause core of the initiative, which has been developed by agency Publicis (London) and by digital specialist POKE, also sees the IOC partner with the UNHCR (the United Nations’ Refugee Agency) to bring sustainable, solar powered lighting solutions to refugee camps.

Supporting the IOC’s self-declared mission to ‘build a better world through sport’, the campaign assets all invite viewers and participants to ‘donate’ their physical activity (through the medium of the IOC’s Olympic Channel) to collect together a total amount of energy or ‘sparks’.

Tying this to the ‘light’ theme, the IOC will then convert this consumer content and supplied activity record library into tangible support for refugees.

Thus, once the goal has been achieved and enough people have uploaded their exercise activity, the IOC will make a donation to UNHCR to light up the Mahama Refugee Camp in Rwanda – home to more than 55,000 refugees.

It will do this by providing sustainable, solar powered lighting solutions for the Rwandan camp.

This strand aims to build on the IOC’s long-standing commitment to refugees around the world and the core campaign idea is based on research showing that 90% of those in refugee camps have no access to electric lighting.

“Sport is about building bridges, bringing people together in the spirit of friendship and respect,” explained IPOC President Thomas Bach.

“In a world of uncertainties, the message that our shared humanity is greater than the forces that divide us is more relevant than ever before. Athletes carry the light and inspire us, giving us all hope that a better world is possible. We are pleased to be able to continue our close cooperation with UNHCR and our support for refugees as part of this campaign.”


The ‘Become the Light’ campaign rolled out ahead of the IOC 2018 Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang as the Torch Relay parades around the host country (the Republic of Korea) with its message of hope and inspiration, and it follows the adoption of the Olympic Truce Resolution by all UN Member States.

The Olympic Truce Resolution is a commitment to support the safe passage of athletes and all participants to the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 and promote diplomatic solutions to conflicts around the world (in line with the ancient Greek tradition of the Olympic Truce “Ekecheiria”).

“As an Olympian, I truly believe athletes have a crucial role to play to inspire the next generation, especially those who share a passion for sport, as sport can unite the world, breaking down barriers and having a positive impact on society,” said Angela Ruggiero, Chair of the IOC Athletes’ Commission.

The tone and objective of this initiative seems to have as much in common with a quasi-religious movement as a rights-holder marketing campaign.

Indeed, like so many religions, the IOC is also a not-for-profit independent international organization staffed by a small cabal of well-paid executives and supported by a mass of volunteers.

The IOC’s own PR material states that it redistributes more than 90% of its income to the wider sporting movement: that equates to the daily equivalent of $3.4m handed over to help athletes and sports organizations at all levels around the world.