Disability advocate Dylan Alcott is working with a coalition of leading Australian brands to change the way people with disability are represented in Australian advertising and media. 

The launch of the Shift 20 Initiative is intended to increase representation, inclusion and accessibility for people with disability in marketing and communications.

Brands including ANZ, AAMI, Bonds, Kia, McDonalds, Weet-Bix, Uber, NIB, Oral-B and Pantene have re-made their commercials to include a person with disability.

“As well as appearing in the ads, people with disability contributed to what was going on behind the camera on the re-shoot, getting involved with all the creative content,” Alcott told F2L. “And what they have achieved is incredible.

“People with disability, their families and friends are letting us know how great this initiative is, seeing people doing ordinary things,” he said. “We eat, travel, buy insurance, we do things like everyone else. The impression we want to deliver is that you don’t realise there are people appearing in the ads who have a disability.”

Details for print advertising is still to be confirmed.

Nearly 20 per cent of Australian live with disability but are seriously underrepresented on the screen with fewer than 1 per cent with disability seen in advertising campaigns globally, Alcott said. The aim is to have 20 per cent of meaningful representation on screen by 2028. 

Asked what he hoped to achieve: “We want more representation in this field and there is already great stuff being done in this space. The way forward is in offering increased opportunities for people with disability, but also showcasing people with more disabilities as well. Everyone is invited…hit on us, you can all join up to Shift 20.

“Ultimately what I want is that campaigns like this will not be necessary in the future because everyone will be part of it.

“My main message is clear, come on board, we need more representation in our community. It is as simple as that, and the reason people should do it is because it is good business as well, and the fact that people are listening and learning from it is awesome,” Alcott said.

“We want to lead the way and let everyone else around the world see this, but we don’t own it. We are shining a light on an issue and how to resolve it, not tomorrow, but over time.”

Shift 20 will be rolling out across TV, OOH, cinema, earned media, social and digital, with product innovation ensuring all assets are truly accessible.