Unilever wants to see more people from the disabled community behind the camera as it pledges its support for the production industry to become more inclusive and accessible.
The company, which owns brands including Ben & Jerry's, Marmite and Pot Noodle, is launching the "Believe in talent" campaign as part of its Act 2 Unstereotype initiative, which aims to eliminate systemic bias and barriers preventing underserved and underrepresented communities from having full access to opportunities in the advertising industry.
Why creativity & fresh perspective from the disabled community will transform advertising for the better
For shoots costing more than €100,000, Unilever wants to see at least one person from the disabled community as part of the crew. It is calling this part of the campaign the "Inclusive set commitment".
Unilever has also created an "Inclusive production toolkit" – which has been open-sourced – in collaboration with the disability community to outline best practice in a bid to make advertising production "more disability-confident and inclusive of people's needs".
The toolkit was made in collaboration with Inclusively Made, founded by Bus Stop Films & Taste Creative.
Aline Santos, chief brand officer and chief equity, diversity and inclusion officer at Unilever, said: "As we continue to strive for better creativity in our advertising and seek to build better connections with all people around the world, it's imperative that persons with disabilities are part of the creative process working both behind the camera and on screen.
"Content creators have created this wonderfully inclusive space on social media and are showing us that it's possible to be authentic and break stereotypes. Advertising stands to benefit from harnessing this skilled talent. The proof is in the results and unstereotypical, progressive advertising is delivering for Unilever 92% better brand power, 94% better brand difference, 67% better brand persuasion and 76% better enjoyment of ads."
"Believe in talent" is underpinned by Unilever's research of 50 disabled content creators, 70% of whom feel the industry does not include them.
Although 62% said that they would consider a job in advertising, film and TV, 90% said that they feel "people's attitudes and mindsets are having an impact on including them on production sets".
Unilever said that people with a disability represent 8.3% of roles on TV and 6% off-screen in the UK.
Dana Cadden, Unilever's global head of advertising production, added: "We are committed to changing the way we operate on commercial productions to ensure we harness all the great talent from the disabled community.
"Whilst we still have much to learn, if more brands can make their production sets more inclusive, they will not only create more opportunities for persons with disabilities but also benefit immensely from the creativity they will bring to our industry."
WPP and Interpublic are two holding companies that will be taking part in the "Inclusive set commitment" and will be sharing the "Inclusive production toolkit" across its agencies.
Mark Read, chief executive of WPP, said: "Building diverse teams that better reflect society is not only the right thing to do, it helps us create campaigns that better resonate and connect with consumers. Our long-established partnership with Unilever has always strived to break down stereotypes in the content we create."
IPG CEO Philippe Krakowsky added: "As an industry, we have a responsibility to create more inclusive and Unstereotypical advertising and communications. One of the ways we can do this is by having more diverse teams and better representation from underserved communities."