Athlete Outruns the Wreckage of Injury in Canadian Paralympic Spot

Stunning ad from BBDO Toronto

This BBDO Toronto spot for the Canadian Paralympic Committee takes the gold for inspired visual storytelling. Amputee runner Alister McQueen races around a track at night, initially dodging stray wheelchairs, then encountering increasingly complex elements of an injurious auto accident and its aftermath. He runs through a physical rehabilitation room and trauma ward staffed with medical personnel, then past emergency crews, ambulances and the twisted wreckage at the crash scene itself. "It's not my story," McQueen explains in the making-of video. "It's more of a general [tale] of how a lot of the amputees lost their legs." Amazingly, the PSA was filmed in one continuous shot, the production somewhat rushed by the threat of an approaching storm. The wet, unsettled weather adds to the moody atmosphere, and the lack of dialog and narration strengthen the visual intensity. Placing the images out of sequence, basically in reverse order—the wheelchairs and rehab before the crash—gives the entire scenario a dreamlike quality, as if McQueen is seeing these scenes in his mind as he runs. Though packed with images and activity, the spot is never too busy or confusing. The message of personal triumph is clearly communicated by the fact that he keeps going, leaving the tragedy far behind. It's breathtaking stuff—with a companion print piece that's equally exhilarating. The campaign does an astonishing job of capturing the indomitability of the human spirit, and on the award-show circuit it may well live up to its tagline: "Unstoppable."

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