Advertising and diversity: is something changing?

We’ve stated many times, here, that media are essential in the process of removing cultural barriers and establishing a new disability culture. While fields such as cinema and fashion are taking important steps forward, approaching disability, and diversity as a whole, in a way that overturns many stereotypes from the past, advertising is still almost totally closed to people with a disability:  except for the Pubblicità Progresso campaigns and the well-known commercial with Checco Zalone, how many other examples of advertising with disabled people come up to your mind?


That’s true, there are campaigns aiming to eradicate stereotypes connected to the “ideal” beauty concept (an example for all: the Dove© campaign for Authentic Beauty ), but there’s still another step forward missing. Yet, at least 1/5 of the world population, today, has a disability: why keeping on excluding those people from advertising, which, logically, would be supposed to reflect all the sides of the world we live in?

But something seems to be changing. In the USA, for instance, there’s a lot of buzz (also thanks a massive usage of social media) around Changing the Face of Beauty, an association which aims to push brands to use in their adv campaigns also people with Down syndrome.

changing the face of beauty

Pictures taken from the Changing the Face of Beauty Facebook page

And what about Italy? As it often happens, unfortunately, it takes a while for our country to adopt Eatalysuch inputs. Yet, something is changing in our advertising as well. For instance, the picture issued on the Milanese edition of the national newspaper “la Repubblica” on November 1st, to advertise Eataly Smeraldo, the Milanese location of the well-known franchise of “made in Italy” restaurants and food and wine shops: for the first time, among the others, there’s also someone with Down syndrome, who precisely works there. Then, it isn’t a pietistic representation of disability, but an accurate portrayal of reality: the girl, as her other colleagues in the picture, is there as a professional, not to “show a disabled person” (and give themselves a good conscience, maybe arousing some buzz).

The real inclusion of everyone can be reached not just granting equal opportunities to access work, education, mobility, but also seeing on the mass media all the aspects of our community, including disabled people, in their daily normality, which, on closer view, isn’t that far from that of any other one.


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