Does Channel 4's Paralympics campaign take Gold?


Like everyone else, I've been blown away by Channel 4's campaign for the Paralympics.

It’s a shoo-in to win a Team GB-level of Gold awards. But I think it’s more than a beautifully made commercial - it’s also one of the smartest bits of strategic thinking I’ve seen in an ad for a sports broadcaster.

That’s partly because it feels like an original bit of thinking. Most sporting ads adhere to tried-and-tested strategies - which, incidentally can produce some excellent work as they do here:

But Channel 4’s angle departs from these strategies and feels utterly original. The Paralympics – not the Olympics - are where you find the real superhumans.

Even so, this isn’t the cleverest bit.

For me, it’s the effect this campaign could have on the parent brand. Most sports broadcasting ads don’t tell me much about the broadcaster themselves. Why did they choose to air this sport or this event? What does it say about their positioning and view on the world?

But the ‘Superhumans’ campaign very clearly reinforces the parent brand.

1. Champion alternative voices and fresh perspectives


2. Challenge people to see the world differently.

Securing sole rights to the Paralympics tells me a lot about their commitment to the former. They are a brand that eschews the marquee event and showcases the left-field one.


And the campaign also challenges me to see the world differently. I thought Olympians were the greatest exemplars of courage and dedication. But actually, Paralympians are a breed apart.

After a series of polarising campaigns for ‘Bigger, Fatter, Gypsier’ and ‘The Undateables’ I think Horseferry Road has hit the bullseye with this.

It has produced work that is generating massive public interest in the Paralympics, and is doing the parent brand a power of good at the same time.

But what do you think? Do most commercials by sports broadcasters promote the event rather than the channel brand? And have any other broadcasters pulled off a similar coup to Channel 4?

John McDonald, Planning Director