Disability in advertising shouldn’t be something we only see once every four years

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Disability in advertising shouldn’t be something we only see once every four years

Posted on November 07 2016

The Paralympics is over for another four years and I for one am feeling a little bereft. And also a bit uncomfortable.

Seeing so many impressive athletes at the peak of fitness with skills that go beyond imagining was a stark reminder about how invisible people with disabilities can often be. It’s not just on the track and field where we saw greater representation than we are used to either; in the studio and on the airwaves, the world suddenly seemed like a much more inclusive place. Until the ads came on.

Channel 4’s brilliant coverage of the Games will undoubtedly have helped to change perceptions of people with disabilities and encourage other broadcasters around the world to prioritise and celebrate Paralympic sport. It recognised that its approach should be echoed in advertising too and so it threw down the gauntlet to creatives. ‘Superhumans wanted’ challenged brands to feature disability in their ads to win £1m of commercial airtime with the launch taking place during the Paralympic opening ceremony.

The winner, Maltesers, built on its ‘Look on the Light Side’ theme with characters taking a humorous look at awkward and embarrassing situations, all inspired by real-life stories from disabled people. It is a brilliant piece of work, and notably unique in terms of how front and centre the actors with disability are. But that can’t be it. Disability represented in the media needs to be as ubiquitous as it is in our society – according to Leonard Cheshire, one in six of us will be affected by a disability. This is not a minority issue.

To read more from Jo's blog, visit The Drum, here

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YgUqmKQ9Lrg

Jo-Arden

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Jo Arden
Head of Strategy

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