Good Design | ‘Meet the Superhumans’ Paralympic campaign

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It’s been one hell of a ride in London over the last two weeks. If you are a Londoner or have been a visitor to the city then you will know what I’m talking about. It has been impossible to avoid the Olympic fever that has swept though the capital, managing to infect almost every person it encounters with a high dose of national pride and patriotism. Even the most hardened critics before the games have had to admit that they too have been sitting on the edge of their seats cheering on the likes of Jessica Ennis, Mo Farah and Bradley Wiggins as Team GB rocketed into third position in the medals table and made their country truly proud.

But like all good things the London 2012 Olympics had to come to an end and have now left everyone (including myself) with a huge sports shaped hole in their lives. Not necessarily however, in fact not at all, because in just over two weeks on the 29th of this month the London 2012 Paralympic Games are going to be kicking off in the capital. Hopping channels from the BBC to their new home on Channel 4, in house agency 4Creative have done a first class job of bringing this year’s Paralympic Games to our attention.

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It’s fair to say that the Paralympics has not had the best coverage in past Olympic games.  Unfortunately many countries view the Paralympics as almost a ‘sympathy vote’, something that has to be staged for political correctness to accompany the ‘main event’. When Channel 4 became the official broadcaster of the Paralympics, only 14 per cent of the population said they were looking forward to them and virtually no-one could name a Paralympian. Being acutely aware of this issue in public perception 4Creative set about creating a campaign that presented the Paralympians in a new light, one that showcased their grit and determination whilst giving people a snapshot into the adversities they had overcome.

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“Meet the Superhumans” is the result, conceived and directed by 4Creatives Tom Tagholm who has managed to hit the nail on the head in striking fashion. There is no room for patronising or pity  here. Set toPublic Enemy’s aptly named ‘Harder than you think” the video promo thumps courageously along and showcases these Herculean efforts and the odds the Paralympians have overcome – both emotionally and physically. The editor, Tim Hardy, says: “When I heard Tom’s idea for the film, I knew it could potentially be something very special as well as a great responsibility to produce something worthy of these exceptional people”. “Tom’s brief from the beginning had been the music video for 99 Problems by Jay Z – ie. lots of attitude and stunning imagery.”

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The 90-second TV ad was launched simultaneously across 78 channels on Tuesday 17 July at 9pm and has been in the spotlight ever since to huge critical acclaim. Tom and the team have managed to capture the raw emotions of what it means to be a Paralympian and as a result the ad demands respect for the phenomenal achievements of these human beings. For me it has set a new bench mark in how the Paralymics should be presented to the world and puts a lot of the past marketing efforts to shame.

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As a follow up to the TV-spot Channel 4 are running a cheeky outdoor billboard campaign with the strap line “Thanks for the warm up”, a tongue-in-cheek nod to the BBC but perfectly on brand for the tone of voice of the campaign. It’s got attitude and charisma by the bucket load and I can’t wait to see what the athletes go out and achieve in a few weeks time. Hats off 4Creative.