Sponsorship : The Paralympics with BT & Sainsburys
The 2012 London Paralympic Games was always going to be a success, right? Back in 2010 as we celebrated C4 winning the broadcast rights, reality dawned that we had to deliver the best coverage of a Paralympics games ever, which had to follow the BBC’s huge investment into the Olympics - scary stuff for C4.
To achieve our ambitions, we didn’t need just sponsors, we needed truly committed partners. Back then, Paralympic sport was not on the public’s radar, so we sought partners who’d not only support us financially, but who shared our goals of raising understanding of the sports, recognition of the athletes and to achieve our prime objective of changing attitudes towards disability.
We planned for two partners, each having equal billing, allowing real cut through for partners and ensuring that viewers were not over-exposed to one sponsor. Dual partners were also required to cover huge the capital cost of lead-in programming, promotion and event coverage itself.
We immersed ourselves in the highly complex world of Paralympic, creating a template for our proposed partnerships: “why so many regulations?”, “who do we have to influence to get things done?”, “how do we deliver value to our partners?”.
In Sainsbury’s and BT we found ideal partners who shared our desire to drive Paralympic movement forward, to champion UK talent and driving real change in attitudes. Remember how risky all this was for all parties back in 2010 - no-one knew whether the games themselves would be a popular success and, if so, whether C4 would pull it off editorially.
There was no precedent for a commercialised Paralympics of this scale, so working practices were based not on contracts, but on trust and a shared common purpose. We worked with the best in class media and creative agencies and content producers. We cut through complexity, worked to ludicrous deadlines and balanced the interests and opinions of multiple stakeholders.
We created over 50 ad-funded films, scheduled like TV promos, creeping up and implanting athletes such as Jonnie Peacock, Ellie Simmonds and Hannah Cockcroft in the public consciousness in advance of the games themselves. Partners were integrated into our multi-award winning “Meet the Superhumans” and “Thanks for the Warm Up” marketing campaigns, creating huge value and engagement. At Games time, multiple sponsorship idents ran across all platforms, even this “simple” task required the re-speccing of our ad server to deliver equality of exposure for both partners. Relaxed product placement regulations were used to show BT branding on athletes’ kits.
Off-screen, we created a family festival, fusing Paralympic sports with big chart acts. Our audience got the chance to “experience” blind football through an online game with Mr. Beckham. Sainsbury’s and BT ran massive campaigns utilising all their customer touch points to drive consumers to watch our coverage.
The Paralympics is a now a mega-brand, almost 40 million people tuned in, awareness of the Games rose fivefold and the number of people recognising a British Paralympian doubled. Attitudes changed; 64% of viewers said that they felt more positive towards disability, 83% said that C4’s coverage would improve society’s perception of disabled people, 74% of 12-16 year olds claimed to feel more comfortable discussing disability.
For more info, watch the video above, or contact us.
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