Channel 4’s Grand National ‘Original Extreme Sport’ TVC

Crabbie’s Grand National broadcast partner Channel 4 launches a promotional TV ad focusing on the great race’s early origins for its ‘The Original Extreme Sport’ campaign.


The campaign is spearheaded by a sumptuous TV spot following riders racing through forests and jumping over burning haystacks in a recreation of the world’s first recorded steeplechase – reported to have been run in 1752 after a bet between Cornelius O’Callaghan and Edmund Blake.


The incident that started the industry is rumoured to have taken place over a four mile course between the spires of Buttevant Church and St Leger Church in Doneraile, Ireland


The spot charts racing through various periods of history and closes with a shot of O’Callaghan and Blake’s contemporary equivalents, jockeys AP McCoy and Richard Johnson eyeing each other up as the stride out for a present day race.



The 90 second trail for the 5 April race is being broadcast extensively across the Channel 4 portfolio of channels.


It was filmed over five days on locations across the UK (including Northern Ireland’s Ulster Folk & Transport Museum.


The ad, produced by 4Creative, premiered on 21 March and also called on the craft of The Devil’s Horsemen – a company specialising in equine stunts for films and commercials.


The spot’s soundtrack is New York punk band Cerebral Ballzy’s ‘On the Run’


The 4Creative team including creative directors Chris Bovill and John Allison, director Keith McCarthy, executive producer Shananne Lane, producer Tabby Harris and marketing manager Ros Godber.


The campaign carries the tagline ‘The Original extreme Sport’ (which in the TVC appears in distinctly Sex Pistols ‘Never Mind The Bollocks’ style font and colour design.




James Walker, Channel 4 head of marketing, says: ‘The Grand National was a great success for us in 2013 and we want to build on The Original Extreme Sport strategy in 2014,’ outlines Channel 4 marketing head James Walker.


This year’s work follows last year’s ‘#C4StreetRace’ campaign which saw 4Creative turn race host city Liverpool turned into a street racecourse – with 10 riders racing around Everton Park through back gardens, allotments, leaping over cars and picnic benches.



The 2014 TV commercial is the lead-in to a multi-platform campaign from Channel 4 for its 20-hours of horse racing related programming, produced by IMG Media, for the Grand National Festival led by presenters Clare Balding and Nick Luck.


In addition to festival coverage and the usual Morning Line shows, the wider work is further supported by Grand National specials of major Channel 4 shows including ‘Alan Carr’s Chatty Man’ on the Friday night, plus the launch episode of its new ‘Jockey School’ series and a ‘How To Win The Grand National’ documentary, plus a three-hour ‘Weekend Brunch’ special on the morning of the big race.


The broadcast programme for the race itself aims to continue Channel 4’s objective of focusing on innovation in its racing coverage with two additional cameras – including a new jib camera to show the challenge of The Chair jump from a low angle, as well as four cameras within the fences and the return of the Camcat wirecam.


‘The Grand National is like a feature film in terms of racing – it needs watching carefully and I want viewers to see their horses as much as possible throughout and of course bring enjoyment to their screens,’ comments Channel 4 Racing programme Director Denise Large.


‘This year’s we’re using more cameras that ever before with a specific focus on the start, key fences and the final leap at the last.’


2014 also sees the return of Channel 4’s award-winning Horse Tracker app – featuring an interactive map offering a real time visual representation of where each users own selected horse(s) are within the 40-runner field (plus an audience tracking data that can highlight the most tracked horse in the app).


Online work includes email promotion and a further range of online Channel 4 services throughout the festival are available on channel4.com/racing


Channel 4 Racing is sponsored by Dubai and its Grand National campaign follows rights owner Aintree Racecourse and the Jockey Club North West own ‘Let The Show Begin’ campaign for the race which launched back in January (see previous case study).




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Crabbies Grand National Website



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Aintree Grand National Website



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