BBDO Toronto Shows ‘What’s There’ for Paralympics

By Erik Oster 

BBDO Toronto has crafted a new spot for the Canadian Paralympic Committee in anticipation of the upcoming Sochi Paralympic Games, with the uplifting message/tagline “It’s not what’s missing, it’s what’s there.” The line describes the need to look past physical differences to the incredible talent of these athletes and all the hard work they put in to train for the games.

“When we look at Paralympic athletes, we can make the mistake of focusing on their disabilities, instead of their extraordinary abilities,” said Simon Craig and JP Gravina, Associate Creative Directors, BBDO Toronto. “This campaign forces the viewer to see all the amazing things that make these Paralympic athletes great. To catch them in the midst of competition is an awe-inspiring experience by any definition.”

To accomplish this, the 60 second spot employs a letterbox effect to focus in on a select portion of each athlete, only revealing their identities toward the end of each scene, and thereby highlighting their athletic prowess and impactful performances rather than their disabilities. It’s an interesting fusion of form and function that really underscores the message behind the campaign, even if it risks alienating some viewers who complain about such a small portion of the screen being used at the start of the spot.


The athletes featured  here are snowboarder Michelle Salt, sledge hockey players Tyler McGregor and Dominic Larocque, and cross country skier/biathlete Mark Arendz. Arendz called the campaign “an awesome opportunity to increase awareness and demonstrate what we as Paralympic athletes are capable of.”

Nomination for the Canadian Paralympic Team is still going, with the full team set to be officially announced at the end of the month. The 2014 Sochi Paralympic Winter Games will be held from March 7-16. Canada will send approximately 50 athletes to the games, competing in all six sports, with the goal of placing in the top three nations in the gold medal count. Credits after the jump.


Agency:  BBDO Toronto
Client: Canadian Paralympic Committee
SVP, Executive Creative Directors: Carlos Moreno / Peter Ignazi
Associate Creative Directors: Simon Craig / JP Gravina
Copywriter: Simon Craig
Art Director: JP Gravina
Agency Producer: Jennifer Morrison
VP, Account Director: Rebecca Flaman
Account Supervisor: Jaya Rizzi

Production House: Sons & Daughters
Director: David Quinn
Executive Producer: Liane Thomas
Line Producer: Niva Chow
Director of Photography: Gabe Langlois

Post Production House: Ricochet Post
Editor: Gord Koch
Transfer: Alter Ego
Colorist: Wade Odlum
Music & Sound: RMW Music