Where other broadcasters and sponsors have hesitated, Channel 4 has embraced the Paralympics and looks set to reap the rewards.
After the perfect ‘warm up’ of the Olympics, Channel 4 launched its Paralympic activity with the broadcaster’s biggest marketing campaign to date – with a ‘roadblock’ premiere of the quite stunning ‘Meet the Superhumans’, the 90-second advert showcasing the stories behind the Games’ athletes and their unique talents. The advert aired across 78 different TV channels and signalled Channel 4’s intention to launch the Paralympic Games firmly into public consciousness.
As Jessica Ennis became the face of the Olympics, Channel 4 have positioned swimmer Ellie Simmonds as the face of the Paralympic Games. With gold firmly in her sights once again, I’m sure the public will take Ellie into their hearts just as they did Jess. Ellie Simmonds is just one of a series of athletes enlisted by Channel 4 to create some really strong content, which is not only helping with the significant education job that needs to be done around disability sport, but is also showing them to be the world-class athletes that they are.
We should not underestimate the importance of the advertising support that Channel 4 has put behind this campaign in contributing to record ticket sales – a major move in ensuring that these Games will live long in the memory of the British public. Sales have already significantly surpassed Beijing and this could now well go on to be the first ever sell-out Paralympic Games.
There will surely be a case of missed opportunity for sponsors who passed up the chance to create meaningful and evocative content and conversations around an event which has captured the public’s imagination. Many are now instead frantically trying to buy up spots on Channel 4. Hopefully, the Paralympic Games of London 2012 will act as a wake-up call to sponsors in the lead-up to Rio 2016, resulting in greater investment and subsequently the further development of Paralympic sport globally.
Along with the work done by the IPC, Channel 4 has gone a long way to breaking down some of the stigmas that surround disability sport. While the big test – 150 hours of live sport coverage – is still to come, Channel 4 has already gone a long way to securing its place on the Paralympic podium.
By Tom Whiteside on August 29th, 2012