Ferdinand in Special Olympics ad

The Manchester United footballer Rio Ferdinand is fronting a television campaign, which breaks this week, for the forthcoming Special Olympics European Football Week.

The 30-second spot, through J. Walter Thompson, aims to tackle the prejudices associated with the mentally handicapped, and emphasise the importance of the Special Olympics.

The spot opens on Ferdinand alone in his dressing room, wearing his football kit. He talks into the camera, asking: "If something happened before I was born, if I was slightly different to how I am now, do you think I'd love football less?" He continues: "Do you think I wouldn't want to win? Do you think I'd try less hard to be the best footballer I possibly could?"

He turns around, reappearing as Barry Cairns Junior, a Special Olympics athlete with Down's Syndrome, who appeared in JWT's 2001 campaign. Cairns Junior then smiles and replies: "I don't think so."

The spot ends with a call for people to get involved with the Special Olympics European Football Week, running from 22 to 29 April. The week's activities will include competitions and events at local and national level.

The ad was written by Jonathan John and art directed by Nick Wootton.

It was directed by Trevor Melvin through The Paul Weiland Film Company, with post-production through The Mill. Media was planned and bought through MindShare.

The work will be supported by a series of three press executions and one poster ad, all featuring Special Olympics athletes, written by Ryan Lawson and art directed by Andy Smith.

The TV campaign will run across Europe on satellite channels, with press and poster ads running in national and regional media across the UK. Time and media for the project was donated free of charge.

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