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Channel 4 Paralympics Direct Marketing Association

London Paralympics coverage "felt incredibly risky" and "wasn't likely to succeed" admits Channel 4 CEO David Abraham while talking creative innovation


By Stephen Lepitak | -

June 5, 2014 | 3 min read

Channel 4 CEO, David Abraham, has admitted that the broadcaster's coverage of the Paralympic Games following the London Olympics and its aim to influence the public view of disability in a new manner was 'felt incredibly risky' and a strategy that, when it began, 'was not likely to succeed'.

Speaking at the launch of this year's DMA Awards, the judging of which Abraham will chair, he spoke about creative innovation and risk taking within business to a room of marketers, reflecting on both and how they related to Channel 4.

He claimed that since the covered of the Paralymics in 2012, of which Channel 4 was the lead UK broadcaster, it had been doing "what the public want us to do, which is to reflect a slightly alternative, non-mainstream view that offers new attitudes to the nation."

He continued to say that Channel 4 took risks daily in order to reach audiences in a now fragmented world, and highlighted the kidnapping of a Channel 4 journalist during his first week in the role as a moment that made him reflect on the the level of commitment that was needed in order to tell impactful stories.

Of the award winning coverage of the London Paralympics, Abraham admitted: "When we took on the Paralympic Games, the notion that we could position that event as if it was genuinely equal to the Olympic Games to the British Public was an aspiration that felt incredibly risky and not highly likely to succeed. But with the Superhumans campaign, the presentation and the effort that we put behind it, we did actually manage to complete the Games for the entire nation to see disability in a new way."

He described that coverage as a moment in the broadcaster's history where it aimed to impact social attitudes to differing issues and lauded his inhouse creative team; "We have used creativity to break through and one of the ways we have been able to do that is because we control our own creative expression with our own inhouse team, 4 Creative. They are sometimes described, if they were an ad agency, they would be one of the most highly accoladed agencies in the world."

Abraham concluded his speech by stating that he had always believed that a great idea for innovation was the best for business practice and that the size of the budget should not matter if the company had the most creative idea.

"Creativity to me always comes back to the most economically strong solution to any problem. I have always worked in organisations and championed brands that tend not to have the biggest budgets, but always aspire to have the best ideas. Creativity innovation makes complete business sense. Leave the dominant players to spend the most amount of money. For the rest of us, like Channel 4, we'll just have to be smarter," he stated.

The DMA Awards are now open for entry, with the winners to be announced at a ceremony in December.

Channel 4 Paralympics Direct Marketing Association

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