Channel 4/2012 Paralympic Games: 'Meet The Superhumans'

Mark Donovan
Channel 4


The Channel 4 marketing campaign for the Paralympics was loved, talked about and effective to unprecedented levels. But without a longitudinal multi-discipline research plan, it may have been very different.

An innovative academic study highlighted issues but presented us with a way to overcome them, by 'treating Paralympians as athletes'. This was central to the creative process.

Qualitative research changed the direction of the whole campaign. Eschewing the aim of a single route, Kindling highlighted that three concepts were different layers of one idea. When positioned as one, the logic was perfect.

However, our approach made viewers feel awkward.

When research uncovers antagonism, there's a temptation to kill off an idea. Kindling did the opposite. They argued a heated reaction was needed and to keep going. Research moved the concept away from a sci-fi focus, emphasising the 'human' part of 'superhuman'. After testing the final edit, it was perceived as completely redefining the sport.