Paralympians in spotlight
The North Okanagan’s three athletes heading to Sochi, Russia, next month for the Paralympics feature prominently in a new ad campaign.
Canadian sports fans are being treated to a provocative new Paralympic marketing campaign that compels viewers to look past the disabilities of Paralympic athletes - and instead fathom their complete, elite, world-class abilities:
It’s not what’s missing, it’s what’s there.
Bold, formidable, energetic. Cross country skier and biathlete Mark Arendz tears up the trails with one arm. Snowboarder Michelle Salt carves the mountain using a prosthetic leg. And sledge hockey players Tyler McGregor and Dominic Larocque, who lost a leg in Afghanistan, dig deep for Team Canada with intensity and pride.
Also featured in the campaign are Vernon para-alpine skier Josh Dueck, silver medalist at the 2010 Paralympics at Whistler, and members of Team Canada’s wheelchair curling team, Sonja Gaudet of Vernon and Ina Forrest of Armstrong, both gold medalists at the 2010 Paralympics in Vancouver.
“This campaign is an awesome opportunity to increase awareness and demonstrate what we as Paralympic athletes are capable of,” said Arendz. “I’m so proud to be a part of this project and I hope it will inspire Canadians to follow Team Canada and cheer for us when we compete in Sochi next month.”
Campaign elements can be viewed and shared on the Paralympic.ca website, YouTube Channel, Twitter and Facebook.
The Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games will be held March 7 to 16.
Canada will compete in all six sports on the program: para-snowboard, para-alpine skiing, para-Nordic skiing, biathlon, sledge hockey and wheelchair curling.
Fourteen featured athletes in the “What’s There” print campaign include Dueck, Gaudet, Forrest, para-snowboarders Michelle Salt (Calgary) and Tyler Mosher (Whistler); sledge hockey players Dominic Larocque (Quebec City) and Tyler McGregor (Forest, Ont.); para-alpine skier Kimberly Joines (Rossland); para-nordic skiers Mark Arendz (Hartsville, P.E.I.), Brian McKeever (Canmore, Alta.) and guide Erik Carleton (Canmore, Alta.); and the rest of Team Canada’s wheelchair curling team: Jim Armstrong (Cambridge, Ont.), Dennis Thiessen (Sanford, Man.) and Mark Ideson (London, Ont.).
“When we look at Paralympic athletes, we can make the mistake of focusing on their disabilities, instead of their extraordinary abilities,” said Simon Craig and JP Gravina, associate creative director for BBDO Toronto. “This campaign forces the viewer to see all the amazing things that make these Paralympic athletes great. To catch them in the midst of competition is an awe-inspiring experience by any definition.”
The campaign shows the athletes’ strength in a unique way. Using a letterbox effect, the video focuses on only a select portion of each athlete at first. It only reveals their full identities at the very end of each scene, proof to the viewer that a Paralympian can be every bit as impactful in performance as an able-bodied athlete.
The line, “It’s not what’s missing, it’s what’s there” describes the need to look past physical differences to concentrate instead on the hard work and raw talent that these dedicated athletes bring to their sport.
With a goal of placing in the top three nations in the gold medal count, Canada will send approximately 50 athletes to compete in sledge hockey, wheelchair curling, para-nordic skiing, biathlon, para-alpine skiing and para-snowboard.