Channel 4 and Pitch set out to encourage the British public to watch the London 2012 Paralympic Games but ended up changing society’s attitudes to disability. That is quite a feat. After winning the rights to broadcast the Paralympics in 2010, Channel 4 embarked on a two-year strategic comms campaign to establish its credibility as a sports broadcaster.
Pitch ensured its activity worked seamlessly with the ‘Meet the Superhumans’ marketing campaign to overcome apathetic public and media perceptions of disability sport.
Stunts included arranging for an amputee climber to scale the Olympic Stadium, securing the first disabled Page 3 girl and re-releasing the song Harder Than You Think, which achieved a top five chart position.
The results were incredible, with Channel 4 coverage peaking at 11.6 million viewers for the opening ceremony, and breaking new records each day for live Paralympic sports coverage.
Almost 40 million viewers tuned in, smashing the 35 million target, which represented a 251 per cent increase in audience over the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games, according to Barb.
More importantly, the campaign created an attitudinal shift beyond the viewing figures, with 65 per cent of viewers saying they felt the TV coverage had a favourable impact on their attitudes towards people with disabilities.
"An incredible campaign. Its impact on helping to change perceptions of disability in the UK cannot be denied"
Phil Bloomfield Head of PR and sponsorship, Virgin Holidays