Storytelling of the Week XXI

The U.K.’s Channel 4 pulls out all the stops for this awesome three-minute musical film celebrating the broadcaster’s upcoming coverage of the Paralympic Games in Rio.

Propelled by a swingin’ cover of Sammy Davis Jr.’s “Yes I Can,” the spot features not just athletes but disabled people of all kinds. They’re competing in sports, playing in bands, working at various jobs, raising kids, ballroom dancing, flying planes—and more.

Because, of course, they can. And they do. Every single day.

More than 140 disabled folks appear in the ad, dubbed “We’re the Superhumans,” which serves as a sequel to Channel 4’s lauded Paralympics spot for the 2012 London Games—a spot that won the Grand Prix for Film Craft at Cannes.

That earlier effort oozed intensity and grit, focusing on the origin stories of Paralympic athletes and the challenges they had to overcome. This latest film, though no less affecting, has an entirely different feel.

Channel 4 CMO Dan Brooke describes the tone as “an unbridled celebration of ability, by both elite Paralympians and everyday people. In 2012, we saw athletes like never before, but now we see that Down syndrome graduates and wheelchair users in the workplace are just as superhuman as blind sprinters and amputee weightlifters.

The message is considerably broader in scope and more sweeping than the 2012 spot, and the nonstop positive vibes—driven by imaginative set pieces and inspired editing—are incredibly infectious. “This campaign is the most important we have ever undertaken, and isn’t just about Rio. It’s about revolutionizing public attitudes to disability forever,” Brooke says.

In a broader sense, this isn’t just the story of folks without limbs who achieve great things (though that’s an awesome story and it deserves to be told). In a broader sense, the entire campaign shows how far we’ve come as a society as we continue to cast aside fear, derision and shaming in favor of acceptance and inclusion.



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