Ford Australia’s inclusion of individuals with disability acknowledges the value of diversity and inclusion

Author, presenter and consultant Lisa Cox shares her insights on why disability in advertising is about more than inclusion, it's economic too. 

Ford Australia’s efforts in promoting diversity and inclusion aren’t new. In fact, Ford is one of the leading names in elevating and promoting a diverse workforce strategy. When Ford Australia launched its latest ad campaign and invited me to feature in it (as a disability spokesperson) they acknowledged the value that marginalised members of society, like people with disabilities, can offer. It’s not only their on-screen value but the contributions to their social groups, to the places they work, and to the greater adventures that can be shared thanks to the work done by disability-aware manufacturers and service providers like Ford Australia.

Ford Australia had taken the initiative and reached out to me via Instagram. They invited me (and a group of other women) to be part of their social campaign for the Ford Ranger – which admittedly, at first, made no sense to me. I’ve been over 25% blind since my brain haemorrhage. Seriously, who gets a visually-impaired girl to star in a car ad?

I honestly thought the message was spam until I was reassured that Ford Australia was well aware of my limitations. They (Ford Australia) kindly loaned me a Ford Ranger to drive around in… (ok, to be driven around in) and we had so much fun!

I agreed to the ad because it ties in with my goal of normalising the presence of disabled people in our everyday lives. It was a chance to spend some time with a great marketing team and together we managed to show the world how easily people with limitations can be included in marketing and advertising.

I love that Ford is tapping into that 20% of the community (people with disabilities make up approximately one in five Australians). It shouldn’t be a big deal that a person with disability is featured in marketing and advertising. But this is the stage of social evolution we are at and with companies like Ford Australia leading the way, hopefully, in the future, seeing a person with a disability in an ad or on a TV show will not rate a comment because it is just accepted.

Key points that brands can learn from this:

  • Diversity is far more complex than race and gender – diversity and inclusion in its truest form would be diverse – as the name implies – including people of varying religions, beliefs, sexual orientation and identification, and disabilities. Disabilities are also diverse and can include individuals with limitations that you can’t clearly see.
  • Girl power has torque – Australian businesses should note that in the UK: “executive teams enjoyed a 3.5% increase in earnings for every 10% increase in gender diversity” – source
  • Ads that feature marginalised individuals increase brand accountability – the brands that go above and beyond to include disabled and otherwise marginalised individuals in their product ranges and in their advertising campaigns open their target markets up to include a wider range of buyers and supporters. They’re championing a cause and taking accountability for bringing about equity to those that (due to limitations) might not be able to participate or enjoy the same experiences.
  • The disability dollar is too valuable to be ignored

In Australia, the disability market is estimated to be the size of (insert stat about dollar value or something). Most of those people have spending power – as do the millions of friends, family and colleagues who love and support people with disabilities. That equates to a lot of lost revenue when failing to represent disability in some way.

Lisa Cox is a multi-awarded, author, presenter and consultant. 


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