e d g e - education for disability and gender equity


Disability in Media
Disability & Art
Charity Images
News Media
Disability Culture

Activity 3: Design an Advertisement

Terry Bremmer is the creative director for Campbell, Mithun, Esty, the National Easter Seal Society's advertising agency. In a 1997, interview, Bremmer made the following statements:

"Charitable organizations have to find a different way to raise money. They just can't simply beg. They can't simply go on the air and put a 800-number down and say, Give us money.'...

"We have three constituents. We've got the people who work for Easter Seals, and all of their affiliates, because if they're not excited about what we're doing, they won't distribute the materials.... We have the people who are ultimately going to give money. We have to somehow get on their list of approved charitable organizations, somebody they say, Yes, I know who these people are, I respect them, and they are worthy of whatever monies I can give this year.'

"And third -- maybe first, I don't know -- are people in the disabled community. They have to welcome what we're doing, and they have to feel like they're being represented in a way that is meaningful and gives some of the dignity that they deserve to have. If you use anybody for anything, the person being used is never helped."

Your activity is based on the challenge described by Terry Bremmer. Imagine that you work for a small advertising agency which has just landed a contract with a small non-profit organization called World Wheels, Inc., whose mission is to provide wheelchairs and other necessary equipment to people with disabilities in developing countries. The director of World Wheels (who uses a wheelchair herself) asks you to design an advertisement that can be run in newspapers and magazines in the United States, to help the organization raise money to carry out its work. She gives you several guidelines to follow in designing this ad:

  • It should clearly state what the organization does, and who benefits from its work.
  • It should motivate readers to donate money to the organization.
  • It should present people with disabilities -- AND people living in developing countries -- in a realistic, respectful way.
  • It should NOT involve appeals to pity, fear, or guilt toward people with disabilities.

Prepare a proposal to present to World Wheels, showing the type of advertisement you would create for the organization's fund-raising efforts. Write the text, including a headline, followed by two or three paragraphs, and a slogan at the bottom. Also, write another paragraph describing the graphic(s) you would use in this advertisement.

When you have finished, look over your proposal. Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. How are people with disabilities portrayed in the ad?
  1. What assumptions about people with disabilities, if any, does the ad contain? Are these assumptions stereotypes? If so, what changes could you make, to replace stereotypes with more realistic, respectful images?
  1. What assumptions about people living in developing countries, if any, does the ad contain? Are these assumptions stereotypes? If so, what changes could you make, to replace stereotypes with more realistic, respectful images?
  1. How do you imagine people with disabilities in the U.S. would react to your proposed ad? How about nondisabled people in the U.S.? Finally, what reactions might you expect from people, with and without disabilities, in the developing countries where World Wheels works?
  1. Will the ad be effective in persuading readers to donate money?

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