In the third session on day one of the Cannes Lions 2013, Jackie Brock-Doyle, group CEO, The Good Relations Group, Ade Adepitan, Paralympic medal winner and journalist, and Dan Brooke, chief marketing and communications officer, Channel 4, spoke about the efforts undertaken on the marketing and communications front to make the Paralympic Games 2012 the most attended and viewed ever.
The session titled 'Lessons learnt from the game-changing Games' was moderated by Jon Ridgeon, founding partner, Fast Track.
Trending on Twitter, highest viewership and packed houses
"With 2.75 million tickets sold during the Games, leading to a sell out and a viewership of 40 million on TV (70 per cent of the population of Great Britain), the Paralympic Games 2012 was the most watched in the history of the event. In addition, the Games were the most trending sports topic on Twitter worldwide during September 2012," said Ridgeon, starting off the session.
Brock-Doyle, who was the communications director for London 2012 (Olympics and Paralympics), attributed the success of the Paralympic Games to three steps the team had taken.
"We looked to integrate the delivery. We had the same organising team for the Olympics and Paralympics. We knew that both the events needed to be distinctive. We looked to build everything around the Paralympics athletes first (even though the event was to be hosted later) and then looked to develop it for the Olympic athletes. Secondly, a research we carried out showed that only 1 per cent of the people in Great Britain recognised the sport. So, we decided to promote it as an emerging sport people had not seen before. Thirdly, we wanted a partner who could be brave and Channel 4, delivered just what we asked for,” said Brock-Doyle.
Moving from a second cousin to a younger brother
Channel 4 outbid BBC, to acquire broadcasting rights for the event.
“Prior to London 2012, TV audiences treated the Paralympics like second cousins; just like you are aware about the existence of second cousins, (but) no one is interested in what they’re doing. Similarly, TV audience was aware about the Games, but not interested in watching it,” said Channel 4’s Brooke.
The broadcaster decided to launch an advertisement which was released simultaneously across 100 channels. The launch of the ad was announced through a newspaper ad. The biggest campaign in Channel 4's history ‘Meet the Superhumans’ was created by an in-house team, targeting everyone in the United Kingdom - the task was to get Paralympics on the map.
"So we decided to carry the event as an elite sport. We wanted people to think before simply feeling sorry for the disabled athletes. The athletes themselves wanted their ‘Nike ad’," Brooke added.
The outcome of this campaign was explained by Brock Doyle: one in three people changed their opinion about disability after 2012.
More global interest
Adipitan, a medal winner from 2004, was one of the hosts of the Games on Channel 4. He asked for more countries, specifically the United States, to show more interest in the broadcast of the Games.
“The United States of America grabbed the highest medal tally but didn’t give attention to the broadcast of the event. I had friends of the athletes from the region asking me about how the country had performed in the Games. Considering, 18 per cent of the population in the country has a disability, more importance should be given to the sport in the region," surmised Adipitan.