The Paralympics Launch a Movement, Not Just an Ad, Around the 2020 Games

adam&eveDDB unleashes 'WeThe15'

Last month, Channel 4 dropped an ad for the Tokyo Paralympics that subtly subverted its acclaimed take on the Games from a few years back. Eschewing past portrayals of Paralympians as "superhumans," the U.K. broadcaster instead focused on deeper aspects of the the athletes' humanity, emphasizing the blood, sweat and sacrifice behind their quest for gold.

Now, the International Paralympic Committee evolves those same themes with a multifaceted campaign touting the start of "a 10-year global movement" supporting "true inclusivity" for the 15 percent of the world's population with disabilities (that's 1.2 billion people).

Themed "WeThe15," the initiative—developed with creative agency adam&eveDDB, among others—opens with the globe-hopping spot below. Directed in quick-cut style by Pulse Films Sam Pilling, it skewers the "superheroes" trope in big-hearted fashion, as disabled folks go about their daily routines.


The snappy montage strikes the perfect tone. Amusing, uplifting and instantly relatable, these scenes showcase diverse disabled people, including British Paralympians, holding down jobs, chasing after their kids, practicing their respective faiths, binging on reality TV, and even getting married on the beach.

That last bit boasts the best line. "We met on a blind date," the wife jokes, as she and her husband, both sightless, break into laughter.

At another point, a dude pops a wheelchair wheelie and quips, "There's nothing special about us."

Oh yes, there is. Because, of course, everyone's special. All human beings the world over—the 7.7 billion of us, the entire 100 percent—merit love, respect and empathy, regardless of our abilities or lack thereof.

"When the IPC came to us, they told us a surprising truth: They are the third largest sporting event in the world, but they're not really about sports," says adam&eveDDB global creative lead Laura Rogers. "Their real ambition is to change the lives of all people living with disabilities. So, we needed to devise a platform for them that was bigger than an event every four years, something that would sustain them between Games."

By focusing on a specific subset with style, grace and good humor, "WeThe15" accomplishes that mission and celebrates our shared humanity. It's sad that the IPC believes it will take a decade, at least, before some significant portion of that 1.2 billion attain acceptable levels of parity and equality. (And sadder still to consider that it may well take far longer, if history's any indication.)

"The more brands and organizations and people that get involved in this movement, the louder that voice will be and the faster the change will come," says adam&eveDDB CEO Mat Goff.

The two-minute anthem film will air across sundry programs and platforms. These include Channel 4 and NBC's coverage of the Paralympic Games, where "WeThe15" will reach an audience of 250 million during the Aug. 24 Opening Ceremony.

Such high-profile events represent "hugely powerful vehicles to engage global audiences," says IPC president Andrew Parsons, noting that the ad will also run during the Special Olympics, Invictus Games and Deaflympics.

"There will be at least one major international sports event for persons with disabilities to showcase 'WeThe15' each year between now and 2030," he says. "I strongly believe 'WeThe15' could be a real game-changer for persons with disabilities."

To amplify the message, design firm Pentagram devised bold outdoor elements. These will appear in North America, France, Japan and the U.K.—including a takeover of London's Piccadilly Circus supposed by Ocean Outdoor:

And here's signage slated for Tokyo:

Public relations shops FleishmanHillard, Porter Novelli and Portland will provide support, securing placements in and around 125 iconic landmarks on six continents (including NYC's Empire State Building), rallying celebrity influencers, and coordinating political engagement for select markets.

"Often, we find ourselves asking, 'What can I do to help?' " notes FH CEO Jim Donaldson. "Registering your support for this movement, critical to advancing the rights of the global disability community, is a welcome start. Change can only begin by communicating, and we encourage everyone to use their voice to support this incredible cause."


Core Team

Client: International Paralympic Committee
Creative Agency: adam&eveDDB
Project: WeThe15
First Air Date: 19/08/21
Chief Creative Officer: Richard Brim
Global Creative Director: Laura Rogers
Campaign Creative Team: Edward Usher and Xander Hart
Film Creative Team: Selma Ahmed and Genevieve Gransden
Social Director: Sophie Chaytor-Grubb
Social Media Manager: Matthew Osbourne
Creative Technology Director: Hash Milhan
Deputy Head of Production: Jack Bayley
Agency producers: Rebecca Holt, Hannah Needham
Integrated Assistant Producer: Richard Bailey  
Senior Project Manager: Alice Southam
Head of Planning: Will Grundy
Strategy Director: Claire Strickett
Senior Planner: Sarah Benson
Joint CEO: Mat Goff
Managing Partner: Polly Dedman
Business Director: Louis Lunts
Account Directors: Charlie Simpson, Charlotte Ellison, Rosie Snowball, Pablo Arango
Account Manager: Irina Patrichi


Chief Brand & Communications Officer: Craig Spence
Head of Brand and Engagement: Natalia Dannenberg-Spreier
Head of Communications: Phil Dorward
Brand Campaigns Coordinator: Elliot Forward
Digital Partnerships Manager: Mariel Avalos
Designer: Tanja Aurand
Brand Campaigns Assistant: George Doman
Campaign Consultant: Dana Robinson-Slote
Head of Partnership Services: Nael Ogden-Smith
Partnership Services Manager : Kiriah Crane, Fiona Sanna
IPC Board Member: Juan Pablo Salazar
Broadcasting Rights Manager: Daphne Chan

Branding and Design

Design agency: Pentagram
Partner: Harry Pearce
Graphic Designer: Johannes Grimmond
Graphic Designer and Animator: Tom Walker
Production: Daren Howells
Graphic Designer: Romilly Winter
Graphic Designer: Richard Clarke
Project Manager: Tiffany Fenner
Project Manager: Jane Kemp

TV Production

Accessibility, Disability and Inclusion Consultant: C Talent

Production Company: Pulse Films
Managing Director and Executive Producer: James Sorton
Executive Producer: Lucy Kelly
Executive Producer: Davud Karbassioun
Producer: David French
Director: Sam Pilling
DOP: Alex Barber, Chloë Thompson
1st AD: James Sharpe
Casting Director: Anna Stark
Production Manager: Kishan Patel & Tom Nutting
Production Assistant: Ellie Saunders Wright
Location Manager: Rupert Bowkett
Production Designer: Beck Rainford
Costume Designer: Hannah Hopkins

Service Production in South Africa: Gathouse Commercials
Executive Producer: Beverley Wynne
Line Producer: Karin Tanchel
DOP: Shaun Harley Lee
1st AD: Jaco Nel
Location Manager: Bhut Gladstone
Art Director: Willow Howell

Service Production in Bangkok: Indochina Productions
Executive Producer: Nicholas Simon
Line Producer: Atrachariya Pinitsanpirom (Bird)
DOP: Nicholas Axelrod
1st AD: Napon Limsomwong (Kwan)
Casting Director: Sarawanee Yodnoon

Service Production in Milan: Pulse Films Italia
Executive Producer: Giorgio Testi
Line Producer: Giulia Negretto
2nd Unit Director: Tobia Passigato
DOP: Diego Indraccolo

Editing Company: TenThree
Editor: Ellie Johnson, Liam Bachler, Elyse Raphael
Post Production: Untold Studios
Grade: Simon Bourne at Framestore
Post Producers: Tomek Zietkiewicz

Audio Post Production:  750mph
Audio Engineer:  Sam Ashwell, Mark Hellaby
Audio Producer: Kirsten Troy, Martin Critchely

Music Company: Soundtree
Music Supervisor: Jay James & Neil Athale


Head of Language: Sarah Mrowicki
Senior Transcreation Account Manager: Veronica Viudas Garcia
Transcreation Account Manager: Maria Dilena

Adaptation Production and Supply

Adaptation Agency: cain&abel
Managing Partner: Mike Turnbull
Account Director: Theo Tsangarides
Senior Production Account Manager: Sophie Duncan
Account Manager: Kate Morrow
Producers: Rachel Lodge, Nicola Shanks, Mandy Amoah, Charlotte O'Reilly
Senior Producer: Laura Frischke
Editor: Adrian Scanlon
QC: Stuart Moore, Chloe Maudsley

Post Producer: Olivia Hards
Senior Post Producer: Martina Trlik
Resource Manager: Aleksandra Bulkowska
Creative Lead: Tom Lockwood
Edit/Animator: Gabi Mascarenhas, Meena Ayittey
Researcher: Beth Hill

Head of Production: Marc Dolby
Print producer: Jay Tijani
Senior Integrated Producer: Gareth Evans, Matt Thompson
Studio Artworker: David Pluckrose
+ the cain&abel studio and QA teams


PR Agencies: FleishmanHillard, Porter Novelli and Portland


Media agency: Omnicom Media Group

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