Channel 4 in Britain recently made one of the greatest ads ever about disability with "We're the Superhumans." The spot, timed to the 2016 Paralympic Games, was a follow-up to 2012's "Meet the Superhumans" but went well beyond the original to create its own brilliant, freewheeling world of fun.
But it didn't end there. Channel 4 also dreamed up a companion contest called "Superhumans Wanted," which challenged U.K. brands to develop a bold, creative campaign with disability and diversity at its core.
The winner has just been announced, and it's pretty great—though quite different than the larger-than-life "Superhumans" spots. It's a campaign for candy brand Maltesers, and the ads, by AMV BBDO, feature disabled actors telling amusing stories of awkward everyday situations that involved their disability in some way.
All three spots were "inspired by real-life stories," the brand says. In the end, as the tagline says, the protagonists can only "Look on the light side" of life.
Check out the spots here:
The campaign breaks Wednesday during Channel 4's coverage of the Opening Ceremonies of gthe 2016 Paralympics Games. Channel 4 is giving £1 million (about $1.3 million) worth of free airtime to the campaign. Notably, the sign-language spot will air on TV without any subtitles, which is said to be a first for the U.K.
The spots are very well done, and manage the difficult trick of helping to normalize disability, through funny and relatable anecdotes, without taking away from the very real challenges that disabled people face. That lighthearted approach should help viewers think about disability in a more open way.
Also, the spots are done in the same style as others in the campaign, just with a twist.
"Rather than creating distance by putting disabled people on a pedestal, we believed we could achieve more by showing disabled people simply as… people," says Cat Collins, strategy partner at AMV BBDO. "For Maltesers, that meant seeking out the hilarious stories from their lives that they look on the light side of, just as the characters in the rest of our campaign do. It meant using a powerful weapon to break down discomfort, division and prejudice—a good laugh."
Adds Lisa Quinlan-Rahman, director of external affairs at disability charity Scope: "We know comedy is a great way to shine a light on the awkwardness that many people feel about disability. We hope Maltesers' use of humor in these adverts will get people thinking differently about disability and help break down the barriers that many disabled people face. But life isn't always full of laughs, and we've worked very closely with Mars to ensure the adverts reflect the experiences of disabled people. Disabled people come from an incredibly diverse array of backgrounds. They rarely see their lives reflected in marketing campaigns, the media, in advertising and in public culture."
Project: Maltesers 'Look on the Light Side'
Client name & job title: Michele Oliver, UK VP of Marketing, Mars
Fabio Alings, Brand Director, Maltesers
Brief (in one line): Look on the light side of disability
Creative Agency: AMV BBDO
Creative Director: Tim Riley
Copywriter/Art Director: Dave Buchanan
Agency Planner: Catriona Collins, Elly Fenlon
Agency Account Man: Philippa Field, Rebecca Kavanagh, Abbi Brown
Agency Producer: Lizzie Mabbott, Frankie Burwell-Wright
Media Agency: ZenithOptimedia
Media Planner: Aurelie de-Menthiere, Daisy Ross
Production Company: Biscuit
Director: Clay Weiner
Production Co. Producer: Toby Courlander