Kevin Mar-Molinero is experience technology director of Kin + Carta.
Desert Island Ads
Inclusivity is hitting the mainstream. For as long as I can recall, inclusive products and design have been considered niche – a segment that’s not large enough to be worth the investment. Yet the spending power of households with a disability, known as the Purple Pound, is worth £249bn to a recovering economy. Surely then, inclusivity should form the bedrock of creative, communications and experience design in 2021 and beyond?
Hopefully, change is in the air. This year’s Cannes Lions showed a rise in the work that promotes
“Inclusivity”, but there’s work to be done. Trawl through as I might, pure-play ads – as in 30 or 60-second spots – are few, far between and so all-too-familiar when it comes to inclusivity.
But there are some amazing, wider campaigns out there that deserve a shout out. It harnesses creative talent to start conversations, break down barriers and drive change. For me, the work below is making a difference and has earned its place with me on MAA’s desert island.
Savanna – Decolonise Autocorrect (follow YouTube link.)
South Africa has 11 – yes, 11 – official languages and yet only one is identified by autocorrect… English. So much-loved South African brand, Savanna, sought to change this. By identifying bias in a system and using inclusive design to counter it, its campaign gave many South Africans their native voice back by providing them with autocorrect prompts and options from their OWN language. In doing so, it has started to fight the colonisation of language and give back the digital voices of many South Africans.
EmpowerHerNY – The Call Project
Life or death can be decided by something as simple as whether you sound “black” or “white”, whether your name sounds “black” or “white”. The power of unconscious bias in life-threatening situations is chillingly demonstrated with this project from EmpowerHerNy, and it should act as a real wake-up call against the very real tendency to “other” communities even in something as fundamental as healthcare. Sometimes we need to be reminded of our own biases. Then it is down to us to do better.
Lloyds Bank – Lockdown Learning
Not all adverts have to be overt in their use of inclusive design – in fact one of the big complaints we hear repeatedly as inclusive design specialists is about tokenism. Sometimes, being subtle is more impactful than being loudest.
Is this an ad about someone who is non-binary or transgender? No, it’s about a business adapting during lockdown. You may not even have realised Emma’s gender, with the only clue being their choice of pronouns. Normalising our interaction with trans or non-binary people, and showing them in mundane environments does far more good than token “big” gestures ever would. A true example of what progress and inclusivity looks like.
Ikea – Thisables
This is a brilliant initiative from Ikea. It doesn’t just directly tackle ableism in society but also covers the medical model vs social model of disability conversion. It includes people with disabilities in the conversation, living the maxim “nothing about us without us” perfectly. It also demonstrates that by placing those with disabilities front and centre of your campaign, and actually demonstrating actionable change, you are not just paying lip service to the notion of inclusivity. Yes, this is a feel good advert, but it is genuine and relevant, and Ikea has earned kudos with it.
Amazon Echo – Morning Ritual
The work I’m already taking to the island have either been about nuance or directly tackled issues head on. This ad – a conventional TV spot – made in partnership with the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), places storytelling at the very centre. Not only does it show how accessibility can aid and improve the lives of people with disabilities, but moreover how the core principle of inclusive design-build for one, extend for many – can use this as a way of creating innovations for all.
The closing scene “reveals” that the central character is blind, but throughout has been using Alexa in the same way all of us would in our morning ritual. That is why this is such a powerful and effective advert. The reveal normalises our behaviours and shows how truly accessible tech is accessible to us all.
Sure/Degree – World’s First Adaptive Deodorant
A Cannes winner to finish off my inclusive design line-up. This one caused a bit of a stir in the disability community, with discussions around the mainstream depiction of disabilities and neglecting to tell the realities of the disabled experience. That aside, I think it’s a hugely important step in the journey towards recognising inclusive design as a craft in its own right. Why shouldn’t deodorant be inclusive? Adverts like this should hopefully open up conversations in all industries about how people with disabilities are being excluded from society and proof that treating them as equals is a massive brand benefit.