Best of 2016 No. 5 TV/Film: Channel 4's New 'Superhumans' Paralympics Ad Is a Fantastic Broadway-Style Extravaganza

Fun-Filled Film Highlights the Superabled From All Walks of Life

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Editor's Pick

Through New Year's, we'll be counting down the best work of the year in TV/Film/Branded Content, Print/Outdoor/Design and Interactive/Integrated (IX) as our picks of the day.

You'd think it would be hard to top Channel 4's lauded 2012 Paralympics ad "Meet the Superhumans," which earned a Cannes Grand Prix in Film/Craft, but the broadcaster turned out another spectacular for the games in 2016. This time around, it took a fun, fanciful spin with a Broadway-style production, directed by Blink's Dougal Wilson. The ad is another expert production feat and nabs the No. 5 spot for best TV/Film/Branded content ideas of the year.

Original Post:

U.K. broadcaster Channel 4, which captured hearts and accolades with its powerful "Meet the Superhumans" Paralympics ad from 2012, returns with another fabulous film promoting its coverage of this year's Rio event. This time, however, it's a fun-filled, Broadway-inspired extravaganza featuring superhumans not just from the sports arena, but from all walks of life.

The ad, "We're the Superhumans" was created out of 4Creative and directed by Blink's Dougal Wilson, perhaps best known for his tear-jerking, heart-tugging spots for John Lewis. It opens on stage with a Rat Pack-era-style outfit, "The Superhumans Band," comprising disabled musicians from around the world and led by Tony Dee. They perform a cover of Sammy Davis Jr.'s "Yes I Can" and launch into a wild array of scenes of accomplished individuals not just from the sports world, but in the wider world out there too. Paralympians make high jumps, score goals, lift barbells and shoot arrows while everyday folks pump gas, take notes, eat cereal, fly airplanes -- just as easily as their counterparts who happen to have arms and legs would.

With every step, the stars of the ad gleefully sing, chant or grunt, "Yes, I can," putting to shame the more tame "I think I can" saying from that popular children's storybook.

Distinctive directorial choices and expert editing make for a joyous, wild ride, punctuated with clever details like a moment of silence in which a deaf woman signs the song's lyrics and a quick cut from the middle of a crazy wheelchair jump to a simple bathroom moment in which an armless man brushes his teeth.

"In a Britain where everything seems a bit less certain and, at times, less caring, we wanted to create a huge powerful Superhuman message of positivity," said 4creative Creative Director Alice Tonge in a statement. "Whether you're blind and you're running at the Rio Paralympics or you're a double leg amputee and you've got to get the bus every morning to work, being a Superhuman is a state of mind. It's time to stop focusing on disability and focus on superability instead."

"It's been a labour of love from everyone involved -- the marketing team, our in-house creative and production teams in 4creative and our media agency OMD UK, not to mention the incredible work by Blink and Dougal Wilson," added Channel 4 Head of Marketing James Walker.

The "Yes, I Can" cover was recorded at Abbey Road studios and will be released by Universal Music, with all profits going to the British Paralympics Association.

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Jul 14, 2016
Channel 4
Dougal Wilson
Production Company:
Final Cut
Joe Guest
Executive Producer:
Michelle Corney
Edit Assistant:
Josh Fourt-Wells
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