Borrowing brands to create a brand: the commercial mediation of Paralympic athletes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)507-525
JournalCommunication & Sport
Volume8
Issue number4-5
Early online date9 Jan 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2020
A transformational shift in recognition for Paralympic athletes occurred when media representations of disability were dramatically reframed for the UK’s coverage of the London 2012 Paralympic Games. The success of that media coverage was consolidated and built upon for Rio 2016 and has been attributed in huge part to the success of the marketing. Drawing on interviews with the key decision makers, conducted shortly after Channel 4’s historic 2012 Paralympic media coverage, my empirical material illuminates how the process of changing perceptions relied heavily on branded meanings. Alongside the unorthodox visual portrayals, partnerships with familiar brands were felt to be necessary to help resonate normal feelings for digital consumers and reinforce mainstream cultural acceptance. It was not enough to just change televisual representations of para-sports bodies and saturate the TV/online schedule with elite status programming, the producers knew they needed to use meanings associated with commodified brands to reassure the public as well. This study is based on corporate internal documentation as well as interviews with executive and creative decision makers working for the UK’s Paralympic broadcaster, Channel 4. It reveals a production practice that is not normally associated with bringing marginalised groups to the mainstream media attention.

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