After bagging a coveted Grand Prix at the 2013 Cannes Lions for their ad promoting the Channel 4 coverage of the 2012 Paralympics, it was hard to imagine how the creative team could come back this year with anything anywhere near as good.
For me it was a bit like Cadbury (and Fallon) having to do the follow-up to the Gorilla ad, destined to always disappoint and feel slightly mediocre, even if in its own right a really strong piece of work.
But the team at Channel 4 has not disappointed and it’s definitely not mediocre. They’ve somehow managed to not only create something as good, but in my opinion far superior and something I would have been very proud to have worked on.
The key to their success is the clear insight behind the creative idea. Insight that the previous ad left us feeling that only those who reach the sporting heights of the Paralympics are worthy of being seen to be Superhuman. Where in reality this just isn’t the case.
So they’ve kept to the Superhumans theme, but rather than just sticking to showing the amazing feats in sport, it demonstrates just how incredible these people are in everyday life. Alongside the athletes, they have featured 120 people with varying disabilities. And whilst what they are doing, is for the most part, nothing out of the ordinary for people without disabilities, it clearly demonstrates just how superhuman they are compared to the rest of us.
But for me the most important part is that it challenges how I view the disabled community.
It makes me think of disability as not being quite so devastating, because look at these amazing people who are just getting on with their lives and doing whatever they put their minds to.
The ad and coverage is part of Channel 4’s “Year Of Disability” – a commitment to normalising an important issue that society as a whole, sometimes struggles with. So clearly me being challenged was a very clear objective. One that in my opinion they’ve met perfectly.
However, Katie Grant from ‘i’ sees this from a different viewpoint.
She believes the ad risks alienating disabled people further because they are currently much more likely to be told “no you can’t” rather than “yes you can”.
For me though this is the point of ads such as this. They need to challenge society and make us realise how wrong we are. To make us change our ways and ensure no minority groups are made to feel alienated.
Which is an important lesson for all of us in the industry.
Advertising can and should do good. Yes selling ‘stuff’ is important but helping to make society a better place is also part of it. And the basis for this is clear and compelling insight.
Here at One Black Bear we take this responsibility seriously working with charities such as St. Basils and British Blind Sports and also helping the NHS. We might not have the budgets to produce something as awe inspiring as the Channel 4 ad, but by searching for and harnessing that magic insight, we’re making a real difference for our clients.