C4 claims ‘Olympic effect’ for Paralympics

Channel 4 claims to be experiencing “the Olympic effect” when it comes to advertiser demand around its Paralympic coverage later this month, but media agencies have expressed caution over the uplift clients are likely to experience from the event.


Advertising slots around the Paralympic opening ceremony are “sold out”, Channel 4 claims. The official Paralympic broadcaster also says that around 50 to 60 of its “gold, silver and bronze” premium packages have been sold across its 150 hours-worth of coverage.

Jonathan Allan, Channel 4 sales director, says the broadcaster is experiencing a “better than expected” demand for ad slots around the Paralympics, which ramped up two weeks before and then during the Olympic Games.

He adds that Channel 4’s Paralympic marketing campaign, dubbed “Meet The Superhumans”, has also been picked up well by marketers and demonstrated how they can use the Paralympics as a vehicle for their brands.

Media agencies have told Marketing Week that most of the slots sold so far have been picked up by Paralympic sponsors, echoing the environment during the Olympic Games when non-sponsors held off advertising spend.

It is understood McDonald’s has bought the lucrative first advertising spot during the Paralympic opening ceremony.

A McDonald’s spokeswoman says: “We are pleased to be continuing the McDonald’s ‘We All Make the Games’ advertising throughout the Paralympic Games and have purchased a number of TV advertising spots during the Channel 4 coverage of the Games.”

Some non-sponsors have also taken up Paralympics packages, including hotel discount site Hotwire, which is a client of Total Media. Leila Gould, Total Media’s head of TV, says the Paralympics provides a unique opportunity to reach an upmarket male audience, at a scale and value that has not before been available.

She adds: “Our clients are surprised that do not have to pay a premium and that their packages are across day and peak times. Channel 4 has been very conservative, estimating it will reach a 2.5 million peak audience, but I feel very confident and excited that they will do much better.”

Mark Jarvis, co-founder of media agency the7stars says despite some advertiser excitement around the Paralympics, Channel 4 still has around two fifths of its inventory to sell over the rest of the two week event and its sales team may “suffer” over the next few weeks due to the overall TV ad market struggling.

He adds: “Channel 4 took a decision to sell the event using specific Olympic packages and it’s looking a bit like the problem that the media partners have with the main Olympics event: the [IOC] restrictions have put off non-event sponsors and the appetite from sponsors has been luke warm.”

About 2.1 million tickets have reportedly been sold for the Paralympic Games, already surpassing Beijing, which sold 1.8 million tickets for its event. Advertisers, however, are concerned that while people are snapping up tickets they are doing so to experience the stadiums as much as the events themselves, with “not huge confidence” people will watch on television, according to Chris Locke, UK trading director at Starcom MediaVest Group.

He adds that the two week gap between the Olympics and Paralympics could temper down any “feel good factor” and uplift from advertisers – especially as there has not been as much media coverage dedicated to the opening ceremony or Paralympians themselves in comparison with the Olympics.

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