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Disability Positive Advertising from Channel 4: ‘Superhumans Wanted’

Channel 4 has always been at the forefront of innovative news. Once considered the renegade network not afraid to push the boundaries of broadcast television (and suffered criticism, ridicule and snobbery because of it), they have always taken pride in how the channel challenges the industry. That is certainly the case for their latest campaign ahead of the Rio 2016 Olympics, particularly the Paralympics that will follow shortly after the main games have finished. They are offering a lucrative prize in a competition to advertisers, businesses and agencies.

Competition Offer

If you are a business involved with disability in some way, you may be eligible to enter the Channel 4 competition. The broadcaster is offering up advertising space to the value of £1m in a campaign called ‘Superhumans Wanted’. This should be a potentially lucrative contract for the right client who wishes to raise awareness of their product or service starting during broadcast of the Paralympic Games in Rio. The games popularity increased in 2012 in London, and it is hoped that that popularity increases further for the next games.

It is open to businesses and agents of businesses who may have the right product and wish to use the opportunity to promote disability in a positive way in line with Channel 4’s wider promotional campaign for 2016. It is seen as a natural follow up to the channel’s own advertising campaign from the Paralympic Games broadcast in 2012. That campaign had a tagline Meet the Superhumans.

In order to win, the brand, agency or company must come up with a strong and creative idea featuring people with disabilities. The competition will close on 9th May and the winner named towards the end of June.channel 4 2_careco

Public Perception

In January, Channel 4 revealed plans to make 2016 The Year of Disability in their broadcasting. Throughout the year, they aim to improve perception of disability and increase the visibility of people with disabilities on and off screen. The competition will have a number of judges including part of the Channel 4 creative team, key industry bodies and professionals.

Many notable groups and individuals have noted a distinct lack of people with disabilities portrayed off-screen with many stereotypes often filling those characters. Perception may have improved with TV shows introducing regular disabled characters (particularly the popularity of soaps – both EastEnders and Coronation Street now have regular disabled characters in prominent roles) but to others, there is still a very long way to go.

What is Channel 4’s ‘Year of Disability’ about?

Disability is not the only area where people feel that there is not enough diversity on television. Channel 4 has a ‘Diversity Charter’ and this year, it is putting disability at the forefront of the diversity and awareness.

The Year of Disability is more than just lip service. Channel 4 has set deliberate and measurable targets for the channel, their writers and filmmakers, and other production staff. They have stated in no uncertain terms that their portrayals of people with disabilities will double over the course of the year, making it the most disability-friendly channel.

They have already won praise for such shows as The Undateables and The Last Leg and now wish to expand on this positive programming and portrayal of disability. They want everyone to think about how we can portray disability in a more positive and normal light away from both negative and positive stereotyping. They hope this will have a knock-on effect, not just for broadcasting and advertising, but also in the general public who have responded favourably to some of their disability-focused content like the two already mentioned.