Sainsbury's and Allianz step up to #FillTheSeats at Paralympics

A global fundraising campaign which aims to fund 10,000 Brazilian children to attend next week's Paralympics has won the backing of brands including Allianz and Sainsbury's.

Rio Paralympics: Channel 4's 'We're the superhumans' campaign
Rio Paralympics: Channel 4's 'We're the superhumans' campaign

The #FillTheSeats campaign originally aimed to raise $15,000 to send 500 young people to the Paralympic Games, but donations have already topped $130,000, as the campaign has captured the imagination of consumers across the globe.

Greg Nugent, the former London 2012 marketing director, who launched the campaign, said the Paralympics presents a "shooting star opportunity" for brands to engage.

"The truth is that many consumers find the Paralympic athletes more aspirational than any other athletes or celebrities," he said.

The campaign follows concerns over the Paralympics after a budget shortfall was created after money intended for the tournament had to be used to cover gaps in Olympic funding. The funding crisis exacerbated fears that the Paralympic Games, which will be screened in the UK by Channel 4, would face empty stadiums.

Rio put 3.3 million tickets on sale in May 2015, attempting to surpass the 2.7 million sold at London, with 94% costing less than 70 reais (£16.50). Despite initial concerns, tickets have now passed the 1 million mark.

According to Nugent, the aim of the campaign is to ensure that the momentum of the Paralympics continues to grow following London 2012.

He explained: "The Paralympics is uniquely able to change attitudes to disability the world over. We saw this in London and I am sure it will happen again in Brazil.  But that means making sure the Paralympians compete in full stadia to help celebrate their achievements."

While Nugent was at pains not to declare the campaign a viral success, he credited the simplicity of the idea and the emotional investment that consumers and brands have with the Paralympics as key to its success.

He said: "We have had support from all corners from individuals, to US athletes, Coldplay, Eddie Izzard and brands including Alliianz and Sainsbury’s."

The campaign represents a unique opportunity for top Olympic sponsors to show their gratitude to Rio for hosting the games through grassroots action.

Carlos Nuzman, president of Rio 2016, said: "Having full stadia at the Paralympics is hugely important for the athletes and we encourage the whole Paralympic movement and the world to get behind and support this campaign."

He continued: "Our job is to organise great Paralympic Games in Rio but also to ensure all people have access to attending the Games. This initiative will certainly help us achieve that aim."

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