Creative ways marketers are reaching out to PwD consumers

More than ever, we’re putting our dollars behind brands that go beyond a singular product. By buying into a long-term narrative instead of just an item, consumers are backing companies based on intrinsic beliefs, doing their due diligence to find out if a market player aligns with their values before hitting checkout.

To position themselves as equitable, responsible, and positive, companies are going the extra mile to ensure that their products and campaigns are accessible to all, including persons with disabilities (PwDs).

This commitment to inclusivity not only reflects our societal values but also underscores the transformative power of accessibility in the ever-evolving marketing landscape.

Tailoring experiences for all

For instance, in 2022, McDonald’s teamed up with Finnish rapper Signmark to orchestrate a sign-language iteration of its famed jingle. This creative endeavour allowed deaf and hard of hearing customers to experience the iconic “papapapapa” tune, all while amplifying the brand’s ethos of embracing diversity.

Similarly, Vodafone’s partnership with Wimbledon has ushered in a new era of accessibility in sports entertainment.

By introducing VR headsets equipped with audio descriptions and immersive virtual environments, the initiative allowed tennis to transcend physical barriers, offering blind spectators an enriched and inclusive experience at the ground.

Representation matters

Source: Mattel

These efforts aren’t limited to experiential events. As Barbie took over the pop culture zeitgeist in 2023, Mattel, one of the world’s foremost toy makers, continued its longstanding mission to redefine representation through its dolls.

Following the introduction of models in wheelchairs, donning hearing aids, and embracing diverse body types, the brand released a Ken doll with a prosthetic leg. This move empowers customers of all appearances and abilities to see themselves reflected in the toys they cherish.

“The Fashionistas line began with a variety of skin tones, hair colours and textures, eye colours and facial structures and has since expanded to include body diversity, dolls reflecting permanent disabilities, dolls with no hair and dolls with skin conditions like vitiligo, across Barbie and Ken,” Kelly Philp, Mattel’s UK marketing director, told Insider.

Sometimes, it’s just that simple

Rounding off the list is United Airlines, whose seemingly simple yet profoundly impactful initiative has left us marvelling – “why has no one done this before?”

The “but of course” idea, which involved incorporating braille signage into its aircraft interiors, has revolutionised the travel experience for visually impaired passengers on the airliner.

This understated solution, while seemingly straightforward, underscores the power of thoughtful design in fostering inclusivity. In doing so, the brand has set a new benchmark for accessibility in air travel, affirming its commitment to making flying a seamless and welcoming experience for all passengers.

Don’t patronise

Nafe Tong, our Chief Creative Officer, has similar thoughts on how PwDs should be approached. “… Because the truth is, they don’t even feel sad for themselves. Why should the world feel different?” he said in a recent behind-the-scenes clip.

This was the philosophy from which our campaign video for local non-profit organisation SPD was born. The clip, which saw SPD Contact Centre employee Athirah interview VITAL (Ministry of Finance) CE Dennis Lui, placed an intentional twist on the status quo to subvert societal norms by conferring authority to the employee.

The script was strategically designed to open with an attention-grabbing statement that directed all focus to the individual behind the screen rather than the typical authority figure.

“So do you ever regret hiring me?” quips Athirah, an employee at the SPD Contact Centre, at the start of the clip.

Instead of focusing solely on the end user, the primary objective of the video was to illuminate the often-overlooked heroes behind the SPD Call Centre – the PwDs themselves.

Equally capable

This video left viewers to consider: If a department of the Ministry of Finance, which supports Singaporeans daily, can entrust its needs to the SPD Contact Centre, what more other enterprises and multinational corporations?

Campaign Asia-Pacific expertly took to the crux of that message with their insight, stating: “It’s good to see a campaign that tackles the issue of underemployment among PwDs by giving them a voice.”

“Too often campaigns of this nature mean well, but don’t involve disabled people and come across as patronising—either framing the subjects as objects of pity or inspiration—rather than as just ordinary human beings who want the same rights and opportunities as anyone else.”


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