Special Olympics applauded in the Office

The Special Olympics movement was promoted this year in Australia with ‘Office’, a wry television commercial preparing for the National Games being held on the Gold Coast, October 1 – 8. ‘Office’ begins with the squeaking wheel of a mail trolley. Heads turn as the mail attendant, a man with Downs Syndrome, delivers envelopes to each cubicle occupant. One woman asks her colleague, “Can you believe he works here with us?”. Another woman speaks on the phone, “Did you hear about what he did last week?”.

Office colleagues stare at mail attendant

Mail attendant looks back

By the water cooler two men watch the mail attendant walk down the corridor. “Hey look at him! That guy’s a freak”, says one. The other replies, “Can you believe it? He won gold in the hundred”. “Legend”, says the first, starting a round of applause that spreads to a standing ovation throughout the office. The ovation moves to the sound of a crowd’s applause with the super, “Special Olympics Australia. Participate. Volunteer. Donate. specialolympics.com.au“.


Special Olympics Office was created at advertising agency Whybin TBWA, Sydney, by creative director Gary Horner, copywriter Misha McDonald and art director Dave O’Sullivan, agency producer Kaija Wall, account supervisor Vanessa Mitchell.

Filming was directed by Rodd Martin, and produced by Helene Nicol, via The Guild with producer Helene Nicol and director of photography Martin Smith.

Editor was Gary Woodyard at Tide.

Applause in the office

So what do you think? Does it work? The use of the word ‘freak’ ruined the script – not ambiguous enough. The tone comes across as somewhat patronising. However it’s worth watching again to catch the nuances each time.

Smiling mail attendant