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

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

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.

News
Russell Brand was in typically combative form during his promotional interview with Newsnight's Evan Davis
peopleReports that Brand could stand for Mayor on an 'anti-politics' ticket
News
The clocks go forward an hour at 1am on Sunday 30 March
news
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor finds himself in a forest version of London in Doctor Who episode 'In the Forest of the Night'
TVReview: Is the Doctor ever going stop frowning? Apparently not.
News
Voluminous silk drawers were worn by Queen Victoria
newsThe silk underwear is part of a growing trade in celebrity smalls
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
footballMatch report: Real fight back to ruin Argentinian's debut
News
Candidates with surnames that start with an A have an electoral advantage
newsVoters are biased towards names with letters near start of alphabet
Arts and Entertainment
Isis with Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville)
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jay James
TVReview: Performances were stale and cheesier than a chunk of Blue Stilton left out for a month
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?