We here at the home office of Fire That Agency are generally in the business of mocking advertising. But today, I want to take a break from that and let you know about something that is really good, something that might just make a difference.
Those who know me are aware that my son Skyler was born 3 months premature, and as a result of a brain hemorrhage, was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. Skyler is closing in on his 19th birthday now, and our lives with him have been consumed with the effort of trying to get society to accept him and his disability. It is seldom easy, with most people content to make snap judgments about his abilities and immediately throw up roadblocks.
That is why I was excited to hear from Becky over at The PopEye about this particular ad campaign. It is by a group called "Think Beyond the Label" and it uses humor to make a point about employing workers who have a disability. Typical ads in the past that attempted to do this were public service announcements that depended on the generosity of networks or print media to give them time or space. This is a full on campaign to get the word out, and that is cool!
The ads are quite different than what you would expect, instead of taking the heavy handed and sober tone, they use humor to show that everyone in the workplace is disabled to some extent. Here is a quote from the article:
For instance, in a television commercial, a worker in a wheelchair points out her colleagues who “you could label as ‘different.’ ” Among them are a woman dressed in a nightmare wardrobe of clashing patterns, who is “fashion deficient”; a klutzy young man at the copier, who is “copy incapable”; and a shouting man who suffers from “volume control syndrome.” The punch line of the commercial is that the worker in the wheelchair is different, too: Her skills at a basic office function are so bad that she is labeled “coffee-making impaired.” Print ads introduce employers to a man in a suit whose awkward dance moves make him “rhythm impaired” and an awkward man who is hard to understand because he is “jargon prone.”
The ad with the worker who is rhythm impaired declares: “Just because someone moves a little differently doesn’t mean they can’t help move your business forward. The same goes for people with disabilities.”
The ad with the jargon-spouting worker reads: “Just because someone talks differently doesn’t mean they don’t bring something of value to the conversation. The same goes for people with disabilities.”
Here are some of the still shots from the WSJ article:
I really like the use of the Dymo-style labels across the faces of the people, because in the real world life of somebody with special needs, that is the very first thing that happens. You get a label. The world seems to have a need to assign somebody in a chair, or somebody who doesn't talk the same way as the rest with a label, when in fact everybody could get some type of a label if we wanted.
But like my friend Dan Wilkins over at The Nth Degree always said, "Labels are for jars, not for people".
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