Canada’s Paralympians know how you feel

Who: Canadian Paralympic Committee (CPC), with BBDO, Ricochet for production and photography by AJ Messier.

What: A new PSA that serves both as a morale booster for Canadians who may still feel shocked because of the pandemic, and a reminder that while the Tokyo Paralympics have been postponed this year, Canada’s Paralympians will be back in 2021.

When & Where: “The Letter” started running online today (April 23).

Why: The cancellation of the Tokyo Games is a disappointment and a setback for the athletes who’d ordinarily be preparing to compete. But the CPC and creative agency BBDO saw the similarity between what most of the world is facing now, and what CPC athletes have faced before. They saw this a moment for their athletes to speak up with an important and entirely authentic message about overcoming unexpected setbacks and coping with the difficulty of an uncertain future.

“For many Canadians, the anxiety of this experience feels so acute because it seems so unprecedented,” said Martin Richard, executive director, communications and brand at Canadian Paralympic Committee. “But in another way, many athletes with a disability have been through emotional experiences like this. Your life is dramatically changed due to circumstances beyond your control—and only you get to decide how you move forward.”

How: The ad features portraits—black-and-white with Canadian red accents—of CPC athletes who explain how and why they uniquely understand how Canadians feel in this unprecedented moment. “We know what it’s like,” they say, “to not be able to put a date on things getting easier. But we know that one day they will. We know what it’s like because we are Paralympians. See you in 2021.”

BBDO’s in-house production arm Ricochet worked with the athletes over e-mail, providing instruction on how to maximize sound quality while recording themselves in their own homes.

And we quote: “Working with our client, we identified a deeper insight surrounding the emotional journey of having your life affected by disability, and how sharing those experiences can give hope and support during these times.” —Chris Booth, BBDO Canada executive creative director.

David Brown