Work & Wellbeing Diversity & Inclusion Channel 4

Channel 4 launches ad break takeover to raise awareness of audio description


By Ellen Ormesher | Senior Reporter

August 23, 2021 | 4 min read

In partnership with the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), Channel 4 has teamed up with Airbnb, BT Broadband, Experian, P&G brands (namely Gillette and Oral B) and Virgin Media to create a multi-brand ‘AD Ad Break’ takeover, which demonstrates the importance of audio description (AD).


In partnership with RNIB, Channel 4 has created the ‘AD Ad Break’ takeover

AD is additional commentary that verbally explains what’s happening on screen, and is a vital tool for people with visual impairments to consume and enjoy content.

Coinciding with the broadcaster’s coverage of the Paralympic Games, the campaign is designed to highlight the importance of AD by raising awareness of its availability for blind and partially-sighted audiences.

Additionally, the campaign will also encourage other brands to increase the number of ads they make available with AD to support viewers with sight loss.

David Clarke, former Paralympian and director of Services at RNIB, said of the partnership: “The Paralympics is all about empowering people with disabilities and demonstrates what changes need to be made to make society more inclusive for those with sight loss and other disabilities.

“The fact that blind and partially-sighted people watching the games from the comfort of their own homes will be able to engage with both the programs and ad breaks at the same time as their sighted peers is a massive turning point in breaking down the barriers that still exist for people with sight loss.”

What does the takeover involve?

  • The unique campaign will have the participating brands split evenly across two ad breaks within the Paralympics Opening Ceremony and The Last Leg on August 24, as well as during live coverage and highlights of the games on August 25.

  • Both breaks will see the brand’s normal 10-second adverts repurposed by Channel 4 and graphically treated to distort the visual experience and make them hard to see – demonstrating what it is like for someone with sight loss to watch TV using AD and directing audiences to hear and engage with the audio description recorded by presenter and comedian Alex Brooker.

  • The ad break will open with a Channel 4-branded introduction to explain the context of the campaign, as well as a closing message that thanks participating brands and directs audiences to the RNIB website for further information.

  • All participating brands will be resupplied their normal ads, but with the AD added, so they can use it within their normal ad campaign.

Why is AD important?

  • According to the RNIB there are around 2 million people who have sight loss, a number of whom aren’t active users of AD who could be benefiting from it.

  • While many programs can be accessed via AD, less than 2% of the adverts Channel 4 receives are delivered with it, which means brands could be missing out on blind and partially-sighted consumers worth an estimated £16bn annually.

  • Verica Djurdjevic, chief revenue officer at Channel 4, said of the campaign: “We understand that not every advert can be produced with AD but we also know that many more can, which is why we are thrilled to team up with the RNIB and our advertisers to help find ways to improve awareness for this extremely important service. It’s vital Channel 4 ad breaks are as inclusive as possible, and that blind and partially-sighted people are able to enjoy the same TV experience as everyone else.”

See the ad in full below.

Work & Wellbeing Diversity & Inclusion Channel 4

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