Several of the country’s top advertisers and their agencies have
made a commitment to include disabled people in their advertising within
the next year.
Marks & Spencer, BT, McDonald’s, B&Q and the Co-operative Bank have all
signed up to the agreement which is being brokered by a disabled
charity, The Leonard Cheshire Foundation.
Sainsbury’s and Ford have also expressed interest and are expected to
sign up in coming weeks, according to Jeremy Hughes, the foundation’s
public affairs manager.
Agencies participating in the VisABLE campaign so far are Leo Burnett,
BMP4, Ogilvy & Mather, St Luke’s, M&C Saatchi and FCA!
Some of the client signatories, such as McDonald’s, have undertaken to
use more disabled people in their TV ads. Others are taking different
routes - M&S, for example, will include a disabled model in the M&S
’The idea now is that the agencies will promote the idea to their other
clients and we’ll see the inclusion of disabled people in advertising on
a much larger scale,’ Hughes said. ’Over the past decade we’ve seen the
inclusion of black and ethnic people and consumers have come to expect
it. People expect to see disabled people as well.’
Hughes cited advertising such as the recent Sony PlayStation film, which
depicts a young wheelchair-bound man, as an example of a positive
portrayal of disabled people in advertising.
The Leonard Cheshire Foundation recently conducted a survey of consumer
attitudes and found that 80 per cent of consumers would welcome the
appearance of disabled people in ads. This fact appears on a poster
alongside a picture of the wheelchair-bound model, Shannon Murray, as
part of a new campaign from the charity this week.
M&C Saatchi’s managing director, Tim Duffy, welcomed the move: ’We have
open minds about using disabled and handicapped actors and will seek to
use them in ads where possible and relevant.’