Move over Olympians, here come the Superhumans.
That’s the core message in Paralympic broadcaster Channel 4 ‘Meet The Superhumans’ campaign which introduced a new message as the Olympics came to a close – ‘Thanks For The Warm Up’.
This ‘Warm up’ phase of the broadcaster’s campaign began on the final weekend of the Olympics with bold outdoor executions and then included a TV spot leveraging the closing ceremony itself. The TV itself moves from the closing ceremonies pyrotechnics to a group of Team GB Paralympians waiting in the bowels of the stadium.
This phase of Channel’s 4’s work for the Paralympic Games, which themselves start on August 29, follows the same bold, hard-hitting and much-praised approach to its previous ‘Meet The Superhumans’ work.
The campaign, first launched back on 18 July with sponsors BT and Sainsbury’s, is Channel 4’s biggest ever marketing initiative and comes from Channel 4′s in-house agency 4creative.
It kicked off with an upbeat, dynamic 90-second ad showing Paralympian stories and preparation which was broadcast across 78 different channels, including all of Channel 4’s networks, ITV1, Five, Sky One, Eurosport and all of UKTV’s channels.
The spot uses the subhead ‘forget everything you know about humans’ and is set to the Public Enemy hip hop track ‘Harder Than You Think’. The ad, which is the result of a 14-day shoot at eight different UK sports stadiums and arena, stars vignettes of disabled athletes including swimmer Ellie Simmonds and sprinter Jonnie Peacock.
The wider campaign also includes outdoor, press and digital activity with media planning and buying by OMD.
The campaign, coupled with a fantastically successful Olympic Games, has helped boost public interest in and excitement around the Paralympics. Tickets sales have rocketed and London 2012 could become the first Paralympics ever to sell out.
‘London 2012 is a coming of age moment for the Paralympics and this marketing campaign is designed to help bring a whole new audience to it, and may even raise a goosebump or two along the way,’ explains Dan Brooke, Channel 4’s chief marketing and communications officer.
However, when Channel 4 beat the BBC with its bid to become the official broadcaster of the Paralympics things looked quite different. Then research suggests that only 14% of the UK population said they were looking forward to them and virtually no-one could name a single Paralympian.
With this background, Channel 4’s brief was to create an atmosphere of excitement and anticipation building up to the Games and make them unmissable. The aim was simple – to bring the Paralympics from the wings to centre stage.
The route to achieve this was to be bold, noisy and have plenty of challenger attitude. This is being achieved by capturing the Paralympian grit and determination in training and in life via intercut backstories.
In addition to the ‘launch’ and ‘warm up’ and TV spots, the campaign includes a set of additional trails and webfilms – many of which were shot at athlete training sessions and at test events.
Again, this series was developed in tandem with sponsors BT and Sainsbury’s.
It includes sport-focused films like wheelchair rugby
as well as individual athlete stories, such as cyclist Jon-Allan Butterworth,
and swimmer Claire Cashmore.
After so much fairly predictable Olympic advertising, with the faces of Jessica Ennis and Usain Bolt almost ubiquitous across both sponsor and ambusher TV and print work in the UK, Channel 4’s powerful campaign has been much admired for refusing to pull any punches and offering an in-your-face, moving evocation of personal triumphs and its hard-hitting approach.
The success of the Olympics and of Channel 4’s campaign is not only driving ticket sales, but also generating momentum for brands seeking to leverage the Olympic interest, feel-good factor and passion through tactical opportunities – particularly on Channel 4 itself.
The Paralympic Games could turn out to be a defining event for Channel 4.