As impressive as the ad is the huge push given to it by Channel 4 in a clear bid to bring the Paralympics from the sporting wings to centre stage.
Paralympics: Channel 4's superhuman effort
Broadcaster's campaign to bring the tournament out of the shadow of its sister Games is an act of branding genius. Simon Usborne hears how it was done
The summer's most exciting sporting event starts not in eight days, but in six weeks, judging by Channel 4's new trailer for its coverage of the Paralympics. Meet the Superhumans is a captivating, 90-second advert featuring members of Britain's Paralympics team. Action footage and stunning slow-motion sequences sandwich hard-hitting scenes of a bomb blast, a car crash and a maternity ward that hint at some of the exceptional stories behind the athletes.
As impressive as the ad is, the huge push given to it by Channel 4 is a clear bid to bring the Paralympics from the sporting wings to centre stage. The trailer, which features the Public Enemy track, "Harder Than You Think", was broadcast at 9pm on Tuesday across 78 channels, including ITV1 and Sky1, in what's known in the trade as a "roadblock".
The blanket approach will continue when the Games start on 29 August, in the biggest marketing operation in Channel 4's 30-year history. The station will broadcast more than 150 hours of competition, surpassing coverage of the 2008 Paralympics by the BBC, which only won radio broadcast rights this year.
Dan Brooke commissioned the ad in his role as Channel 4's marketing and communications chief. He wouldn't reveal its cost, but says the station's commitment (rights alone reportedly cost £9m) will pay off.
"We want people to reassess what they thought the Paralympics is," he says. "It's not an afterthought but an event in its own right." Brooke says reaction on social media on Tuesday was double that seen when the BBC unveiled its Olympics trail during the World Cup final last month. He estimates 10 million people saw the ad, views for which climbed by a thousand an hour on YouTube.
Most effusive in their praise are Paralympians themselves. Jody Cundy is an amputee track cyclist training for his fifth Games. He's won five gold medals, but has been frustrated by the status of his event. "You knew how much work goes into winning medals, but it didn't seem to be conveyed to the public," says Cundy. "You watched Olympians become household names and thought, 'Well, I've done pretty much the same, but without the credit'."
Now, he says, "all of a sudden we're cool. The build-up alone is bigger than the coverage we usually get. It's pretty special".
Tim Hollingsworth, head of the British Paralympic Association, worked with Channel 4 to develop the ad. "We wanted to show that every Paralympic athlete has a story, but that it starts with the sport," he says, adding: "If you can get that reaction to a 90-second ad, what will it be like when people actually watch it?"
But will we watch so soon after the BBC's Olympics broadcasting marathon? Brooke won't be drawn on audience targets but says that, whoever watches, the Paralympics have arguably found a natural home on the alternative public service broadcaster.
"We've always championed minority groups," he says, deflecting criticism the station received for its recent marketing of The Undateables, a match-making show for disabled people. "Three million people watched every episode, which is amazing for a programme with that subject matter," he says. Channel 4 would certainly be happy with that number during the Paralympics.
To decide if you'll be among them, start with the ad: ind.pn/paratrailer.
- 2 Moscow voted the world's unfriendliest city
- 3 The excuses your boss is most likely to believe when you call in sick
- 4 I'm pansexual – here are the five biggest misconceptions about my sexuality
- 5 More than 11,000 Icelanders offer to house Syrian refugees to help European crisis
The one chart that shows how George Osborne is almost certainly going to be our next Prime Minister
The excuses your boss is most likely to believe when you call in sick
Bono's group has made more money from Facebook investment than from all his music
Three-year-old ultra-Orthodox Jewish children told 'the non-Jews' are 'evil' in worksheet produced by London school
Wikipedia rocked by 'rogue editors' blackmail scam targeting small businesses and celebrities
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don’t change Europe’s attitude to refugees, what will?
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
Tony Blair attacks Jeremy Corbyn's 'Alice In Wonderland' politics
Theresa May says migrants should be banned from entering the UK unless they have jobs lined up
£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...
£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is seeking someone w...