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News posted on Tuesday 9th July, 2024

NZ Paralympic Team ready to give Kiwis something to talk about

Delving inside the minds of New Zealand’s Paralympians and Para athletes, a new Paralympics New Zealand (PNZ) marketing campaign launched today and rolling out over coming weeks, will stir Kiwis to look at our athletes through a different lens.

Paralympians Cameron Leslie, Anna Grimaldi and Para athlete Devon Briggs are among the stars of a new
campaign ahead of the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games, entitled ‘We’ll Give You Something To Talk About’.

The campaign features a series of visually striking and thought-provoking films directed by Lex Hodge. They show our Para athletes in positions of power, even when external voices oppose them, using the negative comments as fuel to push further and faster. The campaign challenges people to look at the athlete first, rather than focus on their disability.

The stories of ‘We’ll Give You Something To Talk About’ are the real experiences of our Paralympians and Para athletes, and the campaign has been designed to be provocative and emotive, says Rachel Barr, PNZ
Marketing Manager.

“We want to showcase the individual journeys of our Paralympians, touching on the battle with their own
internal voices, the external cacophony of comments and expectations all athletes experience and have to
overcome, and the idea that we should talk about disability,” she says.

“We want to celebrate and shout about our Para athletes’ incredible accomplishments, and we want New
Zealanders to talk about them as the amazing elite athletes they are.”

Three-time Paralympic champion swimmer Paralympian #164 Cameron Leslie MNZM, whose film is the first to launch today says he struggled to get people to believe in him early in his career.

“Disability can so often be talked in whispers and behind people’s backs,” says Leslie, a quadruple amputee. “Those of us with disabilities go through life proving people wrong and sport became my way to do this”.

Internationally, provocative campaigns around Para athletes have challenged perceptions and changed
opinions of disability, says Greg Warnecke, PNZ Chief Executive Officer.

“The New Zealand Paralympic Team are high performance athletes, who reach the very highest level of elite sport. All athletes face challenges but they fight hard to overcome them, step onto the world stage and do incredible things,” he says. “Our Paralympians also happen to have truly inspiring and sometimes
heartbreaking stories of resilience.

Twenty-five percent of Kiwis have a disability – some are visible, some are not. But we know disability can
affect New Zealanders in some way and they will be able to relate to, and respect, our Paralympians.”

Paralympian #195 Anna Grimaldi MNZM, who is visible in the run-up to the long jump in her film, struggled with self-confidence through her childhood and early in her in career.

“I’ve always had to work hard in terms of my own head space,” says the Dunedin athlete, who battled with
‘imposter syndrome’ after winning back-to-back T47 long jump gold medals at the last two Paralympic
Games. A foot injury also seriously affected her confidence.

“I’m very keen to challenge the perceptions around being ‘normal’. What even is ‘normal’?”

Born with bilateral talipes (or club feet), Devon Briggs was told he wouldn’t be able to walk – let alone
become a world champion.

“I was called all kinds of names as a kid and made to feel like I was worth less than others,” says Briggs, who won gold and set a world record at the 2024 Para Cycling Track World Championships and is shown in the campaign preparing to ride on the track. “But riding a bike has been more to me than racing or winning. It gives me the ability to be free and feel just like everyone else.”

Saatchi & Saatchi Chief Creative Officer, Steve Cochran says, “If this campaign gets just a few people
rethinking their attitude to disability and changes some of the negative perceptions that elite athletes have to endure, that would certainly be something incredible to talk about.”

The content streams in the ‘We’ll Give You Something To Talk About’ campaign also include long-form
interviews talking to Paralympians and Para athletes on legacy, their pride in wearing the fern, and their own personal journeys.

The campaign is designed to complement the Seeing is Believing – Paralympic Education Programme
presented by Toyota – available to all primary schools across the country, which includes a Paris 2024
resource tailored to the New Zealand curriculum.

TVNZ, the official broadcaster of the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games, have incorporated elements of the ‘We’ll Give You Something to Talk About’ campaign into their own marketing campaign.

Paris 2024 will also see the NZ Paralympic Team compete under its own emblem for the first time. PNZ has designed the new team brand to recognise the unique nature of the NZ Paralympic Team, and to unite and celebrate its winter and summer athletes – making ‘One Team, One Spirit’.

PNZ is immensely grateful to Saatchi & Saatchi for their expertise and generosity throughout the creation of the campaign. A big thank you also to production company Finch for their creativity in bringing ‘Something To Talk About’ to life, and TVNZ for joining forces to achieve truly integrated campaigns.

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