A&E’s ‘Born This Way’ Features ABLEnow Savings Accounts

ABLEnow, a program that creates tax-advantaged accounts that provide financial help to people with disabilities, is being integrated into A&E’s Born This Way, the Emmy Award-winning series about young adults with Down syndrome.

The advertising deal kicks off with the beginning of Born This Way’s season 3 premiere on Tuesday, May 16. Financial terms were not disclosed.

In the show, an ABLEnow representative explains to members of the cast how the accounts can enable them to save money and pay bills without endangering their means-tested government benefits programs. ABLEnow will show up in episodes periodically during the season.

The May 16 and May 30 episodes will also feature a 60-second commercial created by A+E Networks’ in-house creative agency in which Mary Morris, CEO of Virginia529, the state agency that administers ABLEnow, talks about the benefits of the program.

“Our ABLEnow program empowers people to increase their independence, improve their financial security and achieve a better quality of life. We share this passion with A&E, which gives a voice to people with disabilities, their families and advocates through this uplifting series,” Morris said.

ABLEnow is a new program that hasn’t advertised nationally before, said David DeSocio, senior VP ad sales marketing and partnerships at A+E Networks. A&E sales reps met with Lewis Media Partners, ABLEnow’s media agency, last year. They talked again as Born This Way was gearing up for a new season. “There was a unique fit between this product and this show,” he said.

"Naturally we thought the integration would be the best, followed by the CEO message. From there we tailored a schedule to best fit their needs and fit what they were trying to accomplish,” DeSocio said.

The material created by A&E’s in-house agency, 45th & Dean, will be cut down and used by ABLEnow in other media.

“Their motto is dream, save, achieve. And that works perfectly in Born This Way, matching the values of the show,” added A+E Networks account executive Mike Buccella.

“We were able to take a small agency that traditionally only does regional campaigns, and sell them a platform across linear, digital and social,” Buccella said.

With accounts in all 50 states, ABLEnow is the fastest-growing ABLE savings program in the country since it opened for enrollment in December 2016. Virginia was among the first states in the country to offer an ABLE program, which is available to qualified people wherever they live.

These accounts allow people to contribute up to $14,000 a year without endangering eligibility for most means-tested benefit programs, including Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income.

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.