This week’s Weekend Wishlist looks at inclusive and empowering brands. Inclusive branding allows for dialogue with consumers and authenticity. Research has shown that 70% of millennial’s today are more likely to choose a brand that demonstrates inclusion and diversity in their advertising over a competitor. Inclusive branding is inspiring and powerful because it normalizes how we look at individuals with a disability, and it does so simply and with force. When we hide these populations away from our everyday life it becomes something to stare at or feel as though it is outside normalcy. When inclusive advertising is included in everyday branding it is exceptionally powerful due to it’s unexceptional nature.
The founder and president of Changing the Face of Beauty, Katie Driscoll, a non-profit organization committed to advocating for equal representation of individuals with disabilities in advertising and media has made it clear that brands have the power to change the future of the disability community by valuing the minority as a consumer through inclusive advertising. Katie has also stated “We believe if brands represent children with a disability, they are communicating their value to our society, moves like this move us closer to a more inclusive world.”
Target’s inclusive branding has impacted families all over our country. Target is a one-stop-shop for almost anything we seek and so to feel as though we’re seen and understood makes us want to come back for more. Target has developed their own brands to be carried in Target stores. Cat & Jack’s adaptive apparel collection was developed following a Target employee voiced her child’s desire to be included, to see herself or kids like her when she’s shopping. The Cat & Jack collection was inspired by children with disabilities, thanks to a mother who saw the value in her child and her right to be seen. One example is two-year-old Oliver Garza-Pena who went shopping with his mother at Target when something stopped him “dead in his tracks”, Oliver saw an ad featuring a boy that looked just like him. The boy was in a wheelchair, as is Oliver.
Aerie launched the #AerieREAL campaign in 2014 in an effort to promote inclusivity and body positive advertising. This campaign began with stopping the retouch to models and a pledge to highlight real women in their campaigns and evolved into inclusive branding. This campaign has had widespread impacts and positive feedback due to the rare aspects of this campaign that continues today. It is so rare for us to see real women, non-retouched women in advertisements, never mind seeing women who look sexy and confident. Another positive aspect stated was “I love that they didn’t make a big deal. Normalize disabilities and chronic illness. We exist”. Some women involved in this campaign have made statements including “I am here to wake everyone up the way I had to be woken up. I just want to stop people from feeling the way that I once felt by being beaten up by imagery and messaging that wasn’t real and wasn’t demonstrative of what the real world is. I am here to make change and be surrounded by people and brands who are willing to take risks and push boundaries”; “The Aerie family has truly embraced and celebrated the real me”; “When my world became dark at age 4, I swore that I would use my voice to shed some light into the lives of others. I strive to be relatable, real, and not show my life as photoshopped and perfect—these imperfections are what make us real and tell our story.” and “I want to help change the stigma behind disabilities, and the opportunity to be a part of this campaign helps reinforce to ALL women that there is absolutely nothing that can stop any of us from fulfilling our dreams.” This branding also allows us to shop without unrealistic body expectations and find items that are fitting for our bodies as they are designed.
Ellie Goldstein, an 18-year-old model with Down syndrome became a face of Gucci in their “Unconventional Beauty” campaign which celebrates non-stereotypical beauty. The aim was created to increase representation of individuals who are typically excluded in the media. Ellie reflected on this experience stating “They show my true personality and how professional I am in front of the camera. It means so much to me that I was chosen for this. I feel proud of myself. […] I feel I have shown the world to follow your hopes and dreams.”
The Gerber Baby contest began in 1920 and in 2018, for the first time since it’s start, Gerber chose a child with Down syndrome as the official Gerber Baby. It was said that Lucas Warren’s smile and happy expression captured the hearts of the Gerber team. Lucas’s father states “We’re hoping this will impact everyone – that it will shed a little bit of light on the special needs community and help more individuals with special needs be accepted and not limited. They have the potential to change the world, just like everybody else.”
Benefit Cosmetics introduced Kate Grant as a model for the brand in 2019. Benefit stated they “instantly fell in love” with Kate after discovering a video on her journey to becoming a model. They reported that “her amazing energy was so infectious and we were captivated by her incredible zest for life and determination, she embodied everything we stand for as a brand so we knew we had to find a way to work with her.” The brand hopes that this can help our society understand that beauty and makeup shots can feature individuals from all aspects of life.
Another campaign to acknowledge is LeBron James’ development of an inclusive collaboration with Nike. The shoes, called the Nike Zoom LeBron Soldier 8 Flyease, were made specifically for athletes with a disability.
Happy Shopping & Supporting!