Dylan Alcott AO partners with some of Australia’s leading brands to launch the Shift
20 Initiative, revolutionising disability representation in Australian advertising
The Shift 20 Initiative launch partners; ANZ, AAMI, Bonds, Kia, McDonalds, Oral-B, nib, Tourism Australia, Pantene, TikTok, Uber, Virgin Australia and Weet-Bix™ commit to transforming their advertising to increase representation, inclusion & accessibility for people with disability.
Dylan Alcott AO launched the Shift 20 Initiative, along with some of Australia’s most well-known brands. The coalition of brands, along with the Dylan Alcott Foundation, are focused on increasing disability representation, inclusion and accessibility in Australian advertising.
Despite the fact that almost 20% of Australians live with a disability (4.4 million)1, people with disability are seriously under-represented on-screen, with 1% of advertising campaigns globally featuring people with disability.2
Within Australia, recent research conducted by insight agency TRA in partnership with Shift 20 Initiative, found that 33% could not recall ever having seen an ad featuring a person with disability, with a monumental 70% feeling that the current 1% level of representation isn’t good enough. The Shift 20 Initiative aims to change this, transforming disability representation and normalising seeing and hearing people with disability in advertising.
The aim of the Shift 20 initiative is to shift representation of people with disability in advertising, with a goal of getting to a more accurate representation of the population by 2028. To achieve this, Shift 20 aims to challenge brands on disability representation in their advertising whilst demonstrating the positive benefits inclusion of people with disability can have on brand reputation and commercial outcomes.
The research by TRA, showed this commitment to representation to be not only socially beneficial, but also economically, with 49% of respondents saying they were more likely to purchase from brands showing fair representation for people with disability.
The Shift 20 Initiative launched on Sunday 17 September on The Project; ANZ, AAMI, Bonds, Kia, McDonalds, Oral-B, nib, Pantene, Uber and
Weet-Bix came together to demonstrate the importance of disability representation on-screen through an ‘Unignorable Ad-Break’.
These brands have all replaced scenes within their current TVCs to include talent with a disability. This talent was selected based on their abilities as actors as well as aiming to give fairer representation of a broader subset of the community. The re-shot scenes not only featured people with disability, but also provided opportunities for people with disability to take part in the ads behind the camera.
The initiative helps educate other brands on how to take similar steps to increase diversity and inclusion of people with disability within advertising with TikTok, Tourism Australia and Virgin Australia also having signed on as foundation partners. This coalition of brands will help lead the way in commitment to fair representation of people with disability within their ads and marketing communications, providing opportunities and opening doors for people with disability to be themselves and see themselves on screen. A dedicated website has been built to allow brands access to best practice resources to create more accessible and inclusive communications.
Dylan Alcott, AO, Founder of the Dylan Alcott Foundation commented; “When I was a kid, the only time I’d see someone like me on TV was as a result of a tragic car accident, and that hasn’t really changed. That breaks my heart. Seeing people like me on TV would have changed my life, and that’s what is so powerful about this initiative. The talent are not famous people with disability, instead they’re ordinary people doing ordinary things; eating breakfast, opening bank accounts, going to work and wearing undies.
“I want kids to watch these ads and see someone with a disability and think ‘that could be me’ not ‘that’s a kid in a wheelchair doing something awesome. We want to shift perceptions so that when society thinks of people with disability, they don’t only think of gold medal paralympians or someone in an accident, they see a person, just like them. Hopefully that will encourage people to have a different perspective so you might then hire someone in your business with a disability or see someone in a bar that is blind or deaf and ask them on a date.”
This commitment from brands will provide career pathways for people with disability both on-screen and behind the camera. This will hopefully extend beyond advertising to mainstream media, TV and production to provide a wealth of opportunities for people with disability in the media space, shifting public perceptions and unconscious bias by normalising seeing disability on screen for everyone.
You can find out more about the initiative, and the impactful ways your favourite brands can get involved in helping to create more representative and accessible comms at Shift20.org.