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Heroic Paralympian Fortitude

This year marks the 80th anniversary of Ludwig Guttmann’s arrival in England. He was a Jewish Neurosurgeon, who fled Nazi Germany in 1939, and settled in Oxford with his wife and two children.

In 1944 he was requested by the British Government to open the first ever, spinal injuries unit at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Buckinghamshire.

To coincide with the opening of the 1948 London Olympics, Ludwig organised the first Stoke Mandeville Games on the lawn of the hospital with sixteen competing paraplegic athletes.

It turned out to be a groundbreaking event that caught the public’s attention, reverberated around the world and led to the formation of the Paralympic Games.

From that small gathering of World War II British veterans in 1948 to the first official 1960 Paralympics in Rome, when participation no longer was solely open to war veterans, the Paralympics evolved to embrace competing amputee athletes and become a major event on the International Olympics calendar.

In 1996 the honour, Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE), was bestowed upon Ludwig Guttmann when he received a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace.

1. Paralympic Games Milestones

Agency: NPHT, The National Paralympic Heritage Trust, London, UK

2. Toyota, Good Odds, The 2018 Paralympic Winter Games

Advertising Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi, Los Angeles, USA and Dentsu, Tokyo, Japan

In 2015 Toyota became an official sponsor of the Olympic and Paralympic Games and launched their ‘Start Your Impossible’ series of ongoing commercials in an integrated campaign that won a 2019 Grand Clio.

The 2018 Paralympics Games commercial ‘Good Odds’ was aired during the American Super Bowl Football Championship’s live TV broadcast.

In line with Toyota’s corporate communication platform of being a solutions provider of mobility for all, the commercial also highlighted their mission of going beyond automotive technology to include innovations such as wearable robotic leg braces.

Directed by Aoifle McArdie the commercial tells the story of Canadian Paralympic skier Lauren Wollstencroft who tenaciously beat the odds to become the winner of 8 Paralympic gold medals.

The soundtrack features the song ‘Stronger Than I’ve Ever Been’ by American songwriter, singer and actress, Kaleena Zanders.

3. Toyota, Start Your Impossible: Paralympian Chris Vos                  

Advertising Agency: Etcetera, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Directed by Eelco de Winter this heartwarming, real-life story in the Toyota campaign series of commercials for airing during the 2018 Paralympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea, engenders a sentiment of deep admiration for snowboarder Chris Vos.

4. Toyota, Start Your Inpossible: Theme Compilation                        

Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi, Los Angeles, USA and Dentsu, Tokyo, Japan

The ‘Start Your Impossible’ campaign during the South Korean 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, featured prominently in the media of 27 countries.

The commercials were about real-life mobility stories that emphasised the values of passionate dedication and fortitude that can make what seems impossible, rewardingly attainable.

5. Channel 4, Rio de Janeiro Paralympics 2016, We’re The Superhumans

Advertising Agency: 4creative and Blink Films, London, UK

Directed by Dougal Wilson, this universally acclaimed commercial received amonst several other awards, a Clio for Film Technique, a Clio for Music and a Cannes Gold Lion.

Entertainingly filmed as a ‘musical’, the commercial features a big-band ensemble of musicians with disabilities lead by vocalist Tony Dee and their rendition of Sammy Davis Jr.’s song, “Yes I Can”.

‘We’re The Superhumans’ motivated 23 million online views within the first four days of being released.

6. P&G 2014 Sochi Winter Paralympics, Tough Love                  

Advertising Agency: Wieden+Kennedy, Portland, Oregon, U.S.A.

The commercial for the Russian winter Paralympic Games at the Black Sea coastal city of Sochi, was part of P&G’s long-running Olympics ‘Thank You Mom’ integrated communication campaign.

‘Tough Love’ involved a wide search for actuality film and video footage that was skillfully edited by Matthew Hilber for this emotive visual testimony of love, dedication and heroic fortitude.

7. Channel 4 London Paralympics 2012, Meet the Superhumans                          

Advertising Agency: 4creative, London, UK

Produced in-house and directed by Tom Tagholm with powerful storytelling skill, the commercial features a stirring soundtrack of ‘Harder Than You Think’ by Hip-Hop stars ‘Public Enemy’.

On Channel 4’s blog Tom Tagholm described the crucial role of his flashback scenes: “What I wanted to do in the flashbacks is to show that it’s a part of what they are now and a part of their physicality. I didn’t want to dwell on it, just to give a hint, a moment of just how tough these characters have had to be”.

The commercial was widely praised for its creativity and impact, winning many national and international awards, including a D&AD Black Pencil and four Yellow Pencils in 2013 for Film Advertising Crafts and Direction.

Channel 4’s sponsored live broadcast of the opening ceremony on the night of 29 August 2012 was watched by a TV audience of 11,8 million viewers making it the channel’s largest audience in ten years.

4creative’s advertising campaign successfully created a public understanding and appreciation of the heroic achievements of disabled people in competitive sport that resulted in the London 2012 Paralympics being the first Paralympic Games in its history to sell out.