Ad campaign urges viewers to ‘reconsider their preconceptions’ of Paralympics

A new ad campaign will urge viewers to “reconsider their preconceptions” of Paralympic athletes.

Channel 4’s Considering What? campaign will ask viewers to see disabled athletes as “elite, world-class athletes”, rather than competitors “overcoming” their disabilities.

It comes after research by the broadcaster found that 59% of people said they watch the Paralympic Games to see athletes “overcoming their disabilities”, while just 37% say they watch for “exciting sporting competition”.

A fat man sitting in a chair in his living room with his top off
The short film will show forces personified, battling with athletes (Channel 4/PA)

Channel 4 will show more than 1,300 hours of live coverage of the Paris games, across its TV stations and YouTube channel.

It says the advert will show “well-intentioned” but “misguided” reactions to Paralympic sports, as it depicts athletes overcoming forces such as gravity, friction and time, rather than their disabilities.

The short film brings each force to life and shows it battling with an athlete.

One example sees friction personified as a boy-racer in a bright yellow sports car, taunting multi-gold Paralympic medallist Sarah Storey, as he burns rubber by performing donuts.

The scene then moves to Storey racing on her bike, but its wheels go from underneath her at a sharp corner.

This leaves her helpless as her momentum drags her body across rough gravel, shredding her clothing and skin, while the friction character watches on from his car.

Two people sitting at a bus stop
The advert will show people’s ‘misguided’ reaction to Paralympic sport (Channel 4/PA)

Channel 4’s chief marketing officer, Katie Jackson said: “Since 2012, Channel 4 has played a key role in raising the profile of the Paralympic Games and challenging attitudes around disability.

“The Paralympics is one of the greatest sporting events in the world, drawing many millions of viewers, and that’s just it, this is sport, where athletic prowess takes centre stage and excellence wins above all else.

“As we show Paralympians battling against the very real forces of our world, forces that don’t distinguish between any of us.

“We wanted to highlight the pure power and energy of world-class athleticism.

“Because at the end of the day, sport doesn’t care about disability. Paris, we’re coming for you.”

The campaign is the first since Channel 4 won the UK broadcast rights to the Paralympics which will not feature the term Superhumans.

Lynsey Atkin, executive creative director of 4creative, said: “Gravity, friction, time, the unchangeable forces of our world dictate what it means to be the best on the pitch, in the pool, on the court, on the track.

“They offer no head starts, no free passes, no patronising pat on the head and another go around. Excellence is excellent, no caveats.

“How strange that as audiences we watch one of the world’s most elite sporting events with our heads tilted and our amazement seemingly tempered.

“As we moved on from Superhumans, we wanted to turn the lens on the audience, done with a film stuffed full of Channel 4 irreverence and spirit.

“We owe a huge debt to Paralympians and our partners throughout the disabled community who have worked with us to bring this project to life.”

The campaign will air for the first time on Channel 4 at 9pm on Friday, July 12, before the beginning of Celebrity Gogglebox.

It will be supported by a poster campaign, which will show “well-meaning but patronising” phrases being corrected.