Awkward Around People With Disabilities? These Ads Want to Help

Grey London campaign looks to 'break the ice'

Ever met someone with a disability and felt unsure what to say or how to even shake hands? If so, you're not alone, and British advocacy group Scope is here to help end the awkwardness.

Grey London worked with Scope to create a campaign "based on the insight that most people don’t know how to act around disabled people—which usually doesn't come from deep-seated prejudice but is due, primarily, to 'innocent ignorance.'"

The ads below show situations that almost anyone will recognize: How to shake a hand that isn't there, how to get the attention of someone you've realized is deaf and how to talk to someone in a wheelchair without looking like you're trying to comfort a child.

Offering play-by-play commentary on the situations is Channel 4 presenter Alex Brooker, who was born with multiple disabilities and wears a prosthetic leg.

The "End the Awkwardness" campaign strikes a great balance of tackling a real barrier between people while also avoiding the implication that you should feel like a monster for making the occasional social blunder. 

"We're extending the hand of friendship to those who feel awkward around disability," says Vicki Maguire, deputy ecd at Grey London. "This is not a blame game. There's often no malice involved—many people just don't know how to act. We've had great success with education through comedy, and our aim here is to remove the stigma that often exists around disability. It's time to break the ice."

The campaign has a quiz to help determine your awkwardness level. Despite having friends with a wide range of disabilities, I tried to be honest with my answers and learned that I'm "a big dollop of cringe." The site's advice? "Next time you feel a nervous laugh or 'what the heck do I do now' coming on, stay calm and just remember, you can do this."


Project: "End the Awkward"
Client: Scope
Executive Creative Director: Nils Leonard
Creative Director: Vicki Maguire
Creatives: Lex Down, Jamie Starbuck
Agency Producer: Holly Blackwell
Account Management: Bill Scott, Katharine Easteal, Sophie Fredheim, Rosalie Jones
Planners: Matt Tanter, Mike Alhadeff
Media Agency: Mediacom
Production Company: Biscuit
Director: Jeff Low
Editor: Anne Perri, Workpost
Producer: Kwok Yau
Director of Photography: Daniel Bronks
Postproduction: The Mill
Audio Postproduction: Scramble