https://www.theguardian.com/media/20...ralympic-games
Broadcaster to air competition winner Mars’s ads during Rio Paralympic Games opening ceremony coverage as part of campaign to promote diversity

Channel 4
is to air what is believed to be the first TV ad ever to use sign language as part of a campaign to promote diversity as it kicks off coverage of the Rio Paralympic Games.

The 30-second ad, which will not initially air with subtitles, leaving most viewers unable to understand the commercial, is one of three created by chocolate maker Mars to promote its Maltesers brand and champion diversity.

Mars was the winner of a competition held by Channel 4, called Superhumans Wanted, offering £1m in free TV ad space to the ad agency, advertiser, organisation or production company submitting the strongest campaign featuring disability and disabled talent.

“As one of the UK’s biggest advertisers, we have a responsibility and a role to play in reflecting diversity in everyday media,” said Michele Oliver, vice president of marketing at Mars Chocolate UK. “This is a first step for us, and with a fifth of the UK population living with a disability, and the nation focused on this great sporting event, this is the right time to join the conversation.




“We are one advertiser, and to make real change you need real scale. That’s why, beyond our own ads, we want to open the conversation with other companies and their brands about how we better represent the diversity of modern Britain in our advertising.”

All three TV ads, which form part of Mars’s “look on the lighter side” campaign, will be broadcast during the opening ceremony of the Rio Paralympics on Wednesday.

In a UK first, one of the adverts features two women telling a joke about a dog that eats a hearing aid using British Sign Language and no subtitles. Some subsequent airings of the ad will feature subtitles so viewers can get in on the disability joke.

“The calibre of competition entries demonstrated that the UK ad industry can be world-leading in improving representation of disability in advertising,” said Jonathan Allan, sales director at Channel 4.

“We hope that Mars Chocolate UK and [ad agency] AMV’s bold ambition for these cheeky ads, using Maltesers signature format which TV viewers already love, will create a legacy for our Superhumans Wanted initiative, and alongside our latest Paralympics ad, encourage more brands and agencies to approach and cast their campaigns in new ways to make richly diverse ads the norm rather than the exception.”



Channel 4’s coverage of the Rio Paralympics will be hosted by Clare Balding and Breaking Bad actor RJ Mitte, who played Walter White’s disabled son Walt Jr.

Three quarters of the presenters and 10% of the production staff have disabilities.

Channel 4’s Rio Olympic TV ad promotion features no fewer than 120 people with disabilities in a cast of over 150.

In January, Channel 4 announced its year of disability with commitments to boost on- and off-screen representation of disabled people.

This includes doubling the number of disabled people appearing in 20 of Channel 4’s biggest shows, including Gogglebox, The Island, Hollyoaks and First Dates.