Japan Para Table Tennis Association: The Most Challenging Pingpong Table

July 13, 2019Filed under Design and Public Interest, NGO

Tokyo will be hosting the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. However, despite growing public excitement, study shows only 1% of Japanese watch Paralympic Games as these sports still struggle to gain media coverage and audience. 

It is a global challenge facing many para-sports committees and athletes, including our client, Japan Para Table Tennis Association. 

Among the reasons for the general lack of interest in Paralympic Games, are that people don’t relate to the challenges faced by para-athletes, and therefore don’t fully appreciate the immense skill involved in competing.

To raise awareness of para table tennis and para-sport in general, in a reality where Paralympic Games are regarded secondary or largely ignored, we felt the need to bring a new perspective for spectators, by communicating the appeal through an innovative method that facilitate an authentic understanding of the sport.

The ‘Para Pingpong Table’ is a collection of pingpong tables in various shapes that highlight the unique challenges experienced by para-athletes.

These tables were designed based on interviews and sketches from members of the Japanese National Team, who were asked to describe the shapes of the table as they ‘experience’ it, to help us visualize and comprehend what it is like to compete as a disabled player.

Instead of the conventional method in which a person’s mobility is forcibly restrained, an uncomfortable experience that reinforces disability, ‘Para Pingpong Table’ directs your focus on the exceptional ability of para-athletes and foster renewed respect among those who experience it.

The 'Para Pingpong Table' lets us see the world through the athletes’ eyes in a positive way and serves as a new intuitive communication tool to better inform people about the athletes’ unique challenges and triumphs, adding greater depth for spectators.

Among 20 unique shapes, a total of 3 tables are produced, each representing a different athlete’s experience. We turned a familiar shaped pingpong table into something unexpected and iconic, that is fully functional but also has a beautiful visual impact.

These tables are professionally developed in cooperation with the manufacturer of the official model for 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and meet the international competition standards in quality to achieve the full experience of the competitive game. 

Adding to its aesthetic appeal is the detachable base of the table that gradually transforms into the unique shape of the tabletop to visualize the diverse reality experienced by para athletes. 

These tables have been used at live events, displayed at commercial facilities and schools for everyone to experience, and continues to draw public and media attention to spread the appeal of para-sports.

92% of those who experienced the table responded that they now want to go and watch a para table tennis match, as well as other para-sport games. 

Over the last 4 months, we gained a total of 1.1 billion impressions across 450 media both in Japan and overseas. 

Social media engagement skyrocketed to +200%, while the number of people who experienced the table (currently 3,000) is increasing every day. 

The head of Japan Sports Agency, Rio Olympic gold medalists, and noted politicians experienced the table and voiced their support. 

We are currently carrying out tours across Japan in response to many schools and businesses interested in experiencing the table.

The table has now become an “official exhibition content” for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic committee to use in their programs.

Advertising Agency:Tbwa\Hakuhodo, Tokyo, Japan
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