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Optus ‘pauses’ #SignYes campaign after accusations of appropriation

Optus has paused its TikTok #SignYes campaign which featured a sign-language activated filter that launched on Friday 23 July.

The pause comes after Twitter users online accused the brand of appropriation, as well as a lack of consultation with the Deaf community.

The TikTok filter was sign-language activated which aimed to show TikTok users how to say phrases in Auslan, such as “How are you?” and “Yes”.

A Twitter user, who goes by the username @isigniwander, tweeted at Optus with her concerns.

Another Twitter user, @Catherine_Dunn, shared her views on the campaign, pointing out the apparent lack of consultation with deaf people.

Optus responded to @isgniwander, apologised for any offence caused, and has paused the campaign.

The effect has been removed from TikTok and is no longer available.

Deaf Victoria, the peak advocacy body representing deaf and hard of hearing Victorians, posted an open letter to Optus critical of the campaign.

In a statement to Mumbrella, an Optus spokesperson said: “We are incredibly sorry to anyone we have offended with our Optus #SignYes Challenge. This was not our intent.

“The launch of this campaign was to inspire change. With 1 in 6 people in Australia either deaf or hard of hearing, this hashtag challenge was created to inspire Australians to learn Auslan.

“We have been collaborating and working with members of the Australian Deaf and hard of hearing community to ensure the campaign didn’t miss the mark, but it clearly did so we have paused our campaign with our respectful apology while we engage with the wider Deaf community to ensure we are achieving what we set out to do in a respectful way.”

Optus recently came under fire for breaching the Australian Association of National Advertisers Code of Ethics.

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