How the best brands won gold in their Paralympic partnerships

After a difficult year, to put it mildly, this summer’s Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games have provided headlines that finally make us smile. No wonder, then, that many brands have pushed their partnerships with the Games to the forefront.

Don't pay lip-service to the Paralympic Games and ignore people with disabilities the rest of the time, writes Dan Whitney
Don't pay lip-service to the Paralympic Games and ignore people with disabilities the rest of the time, writes Dan Whitney

Now that the Paralympic Games have reached their conclusion, here’s how the best brands have been going for gold – and what we can all learn from them.

It's not a tick-box exercise

The Paralympics showcase true excellence and, as with all elite sport, the athletes should be put on stage. In the specific case of the Paralympics, this means campaigns that feature more disabled people than are usually seen in nationwide campaigns. While this is a fantastic opportunity to put disabled voices at the heart of your activations, it’s important not to see this as a tick-box exercise. Make sure that campaigns are truly inclusive all year round. If your brand only includes disabled people during the Paralympics, considers the box ticked and then relegates disabled people to the background for another four years, consumers will rightly call out your campaigns as insincere.

Make content authentic

The best brand partnerships take a step back before they sign up and ask themselves a very important question: “Why?” Does support for this event make sense in your brand’s DNA? It can be very easy with major events like the Paralympics to jump on the bandwagon. But this should be avoided at all costs. Consumers will see through brands that don’t really appear to care. The best campaigns this year have truly taken a step back and engaged the key stakeholders – in this case, those in sport and the disabled community. Sainsbury's, for example, has taken the opportunity to showcase its disabled employees while supporting grassroots sport for disabled kids.

Tell a creative story

After asking the important "Why?" questions, the best brand partnerships find a way to tell a creative story. Consumers need to quickly understand why a brand is partnering the Paralympics and what benefit that partnership brings to the wider world. Great storytelling cuts through the noise. It always makes you realise something new. And when it comes to disability there is, sadly, still plenty that the public does not understand.

The Paralympics have never had more clout in the UK’s sporting landscape, and it’s great to see new voices being put front and centre of campaigns.

The brands that officially get the gold medals, though, will be those that don’t put these campaigns back in the box but continue to show support through to Paris 2024.

Dan Whitney is managing director of content strategies at Allison+Partners

Thumbnail credit: Getty images/Moto Yoshimura

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