As children we read about them in comic books, collected figurines and watched the latest Hollywood blockbusters with actors clambering to portray them. But in recent weeks it seems Channel 4 have royally re-designed our perception of a “Super Human,” giving the athletes of the Paralympic games their time in the limelight.
The channel has invested millions in the biggest advertising campaign they have undergone in the past 30 years – whether it will be a success is yet to be found out when the games start on the 29th August. However, the first time Channel 4 aired their advertisements for the Paralympic games, the after-effect was staggering.
The Guardian said: “The summer's most exciting sporting event starts not in eight days, but in six weeks, judging by Channel 4's new trailer for its coverage of the Paralympics.”
Channel 4 has, in essence (if you haven’t already been blown away by the various trailers they have released) rebranded the Paralympics as a display of super human ability – rather than that of a competition of disabilities. The imagery of the Paralympians has defiantly given the Olympic Games a two-finger salute with the caption of “Thanks for the warm-up.” Huge black billboards, with the same phrase in white lettering, have also gone up all over the country – meaning there is no way to escape the hype.
And as the sounds of Public Enemy's 'Harder than you think' ring out throughout, there's no doubting it's a powerfully evocative piece of media.
Disabilities the athletes have are not shyed away from at all – occasionally, this can be uncomfortable viewing. Instead the in-house team behind the ads, 4Creative, have painted a new picture of the word disability. “Forget all you thought you knew about strength” and “Forget all you thought you knew about humans” are phrases used in their latest advert – Meet the Super Humans.
This in my mind is decisively superior to the connotations of sporting honour and patriotism put forward by the rather bland campaign of the BBC a few weeks ago. A true out-of-the-box idea that only Channel 4 could have conjured. As of yet, this marketing campaign is seemingly on the road to success, with recent figures showing that the event is on course to sell out for the first time in its 52-year history. The Daily Mail reported that 2.2 million out of the 2.5 million available seats have already been sold.
C4 have gone all out to devote as much of their airtime to the Games as possible – with 3 of their channels on course to broadcast it in its entirety. Not only this, but there is currently a huge section of their website about the Games and biogs of all of Team GB’s athletes.
Hang up you cape for good Superman, the real Super Humans have arrived to take centre stage.
I am the Founder and Editor-in-chief of New Rising Media. You can follow me on Twitter @MrJasonEngland.