ANALYSIS: Disabled Move Up the Agenda

Marketing, November 27, 2003 | Go to article overview

ANALYSIS: Disabled Move Up the Agenda


The government is giving the disabled a greater role in its ads, so why aren't more private sector brands following suit?

At the launch of the government's first Images of Disability annual report in London last week, minister for disabled people Maria Eagle urged marketers and agencies to make more frequent and prominent use of the disabled in advertising campaigns. The event was in effect a clarion call for advertising that is more inclusive and representative of society.

Eagle was able to point to the government's own laudable achievements. In 2003, more than half of all new government advertising campaigns have included disabled people.

And it is close to achieving its long-term target of featuring an image of disability in one in five of its ad executions.

Although the government should be commended for blazing a trail, marketers in the private sector have been far more reluctant to associate the disabled with their brands.

Only a handful of the many thousands of ads produced over the past decade have featured images of the disabled. Their minimal representation in advertising is completely out of balance with the actuality of their widespread presence in the real world.

Disabled pound

There are 8.6 million disabled people in the UK, with a combined spending power estimated at pounds 45bn. This is a major market in any terms, but one that few advertisers are prepared to address.

'Disabled people are consumers like everybody else,' said Eagle at the launch. 'It is surprising advertisers haven't yet woken up to the value of the 'disabled pound'. Disabled people are the poor relations when it comes to ad campaigns. We can all look back with a sense of embarrassment at how few black people appeared in advertisements 15 years ago. I believe that in 15 years' time we will look back with similar embarrassment at the lack of disabled people in commercial breaks and on billboards today.'

Why, then, are there so few images of the disabled in mainstream advertising?

Is it a matter of prejudice and ignorance? Is it creative laziness or a more calculated neglect? And who deserves the greater share of the blame: client or creative agency?

HHCL/Red Cell managing partner Minnie Moll, who attended last week's report launch, thinks a major stumbling block is that much advertising is aspirational, but disabled people are not seen as such and do not fit in with the creative.

The belief that the more beautiful the people in a commercial, the more desirable the product, has taken firm root in some minds.

'We've always pushed against that and thought it more interesting to put real people in ads,' says Moll. 'Real people give you empathy instead of envy.'

HHCL recently scooped the pounds 3m Department of Work and Pensions brief to help change attitudes to the disabled in a campaign that breaks next year.

Clearly, the issue of disability is on its radar screen more than with most ad agencies. So how does Moll account for the dearth of disability images in ads?

'I believe there are lots of agencies out there that do put interesting casting proposals in front of clients - and clients are blocking them,' she says. 'Most of the blockages are not caused by prejudice. They come from people not taking the time to question judgment calls.'

Shell Consumer vice-president Neil Sansom sees it differently. 'It's probably not that brands don't want to choose disabled people,' he says.

'It's more that the ad agencies and commercials directors aren't often recommending them to clients.'

Positive impact

Sansom was marketing director of Freeserve three years ago when its agency, M&C Saatchi, developed the 'Catwalk' ad, which was shot by maverick director Tony Kaye. 'Catwalk' starred model and athlete Aimee Mullins, who has lost both her legs, and was awarded ad of the year 2000 in charity Scope's Give Us A (Commercial) Break Awards. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

ANALYSIS: Disabled Move Up the Agenda
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.