We Can Change Attitudes With Disability In Advertising

My industry gets alot of flack, and some of it is well deserved. Picture that annoying ad or jingle that gets stuck in your head from used car dealers. But some of the most powerful and connective advertising goes beyond a product’s features and benefits to brands recognizing, incorporating and advocating for societal shifts. Many advertisers are now weaving people with disabilities into brand narratives.

Do these advertising images that use people with disabilities help change attitudes? This was the central question of a talk held at the University of Texas, Arlington, by disability studies and media scholar Dr. Beth Haller. Continue reading

Ad Council

What label are you advertising?

In the logo saturated world of advertising, labels are everywhere, but in 2015 the Ad Council and R/GA teamed up to share stories that have no labels. This video shows a live crowd’s reactions to a giant, ersatz X-ray installation where two people are initially seen behind the X-ray and as they emerge…the unexpected happens. Continue reading

Football, Super Bowl, Wheelchair

Advertising, Disability & Super Bowl 50 are a Winning Combo

What’s my favorite Super Bowl ad? If I had to pick, there are more than a thousand options over the course of the game’s 50 years. But what’s my favorite Super Bowl ad inclusive of people with disabilities? Now the options shrink dramatically down to a handful. Continue reading

Masculinity, Symbols, Wheelchair

Axing Stereotypes With The First Disability Inclusive Ad of 2016

You might say New Year’s resolutions are about axing old, misguided habits and Unilever’s newest TV commercial for Axe body spray does just that by shifting away from stereotypical machismo to feature a broader interpretation of masculinity. Continue reading


Liberty Mutual’s Responsibility Revolution

I believe advertising can start a revolution. After interviewing Teal Sherer and getting her take as an actor in the commercial, I was fortunate enough to interview Jennifer Anderson, Marketing Manager with Liberty Mutual, who shared more insights from the advertiser’s perspective. Continue reading

Social Justice

Disability, Social Justice & The Power of Creativity

‘Justice for all’ are three words we, as Americans, solemnly pledge, affirming our allegiance to country and community. But when it comes to social justice for people with disabilities, there is still a wide gap.

Academy Award winning actress Marlee Matlin shares her voice in this video on struggles of people with disability and social justice. Continue reading

Universal Design

Transformational Tea Kettles

How can something as simple as a new tea kettle design create buzz in advertising and creative industries and become transformational for people with disabilities? In this post’s two examples, Michael Graves and OXO share the power Universal Design is bringing to the disabled community. Continue reading

Amputee Advertising

Stepping Forward: Advertising & The Amputee Athlete

Copyright Nike

Paralympians Break The Ad Barrier was the title of a BusinessWeek article published in 2008. Just in the recent past, only three years ago, disabled athletes were granted a small advertising foothold of endorsements and sponsorships mostly dominated by gold medal Olympians. Major marketers including Visa and McDonalds, both longtime supporters of disability advocacy and awareness, wove compelling stories of disabled athletes into their general marketing campaigns centered around the 2008 Olympic games. Antonio Lucio, Visa’s chief marketing officer said, “The person we decided to feature, Cheri Blauwet, is not just a Paralympic athlete but an incredible female role model.” Continue reading


Quiet Confidence With No Bull – Redbull & Ashley Fiolek

Ashley Fiolek, a young motocross superstar who, by the way, is deaf, was recently recognised at the 2010 Courage in Sports Awards for her achievements and efforts in action sports and charitable work within the deaf community. Known in motocross circles as the Dirtbike Princess, Ashley is sponsored by, and stars in this breathtaking and, in the end, surprising ReBull commercial. Continue reading