4 Award-Winning Campaigns That Spoke to People with Disabilities

By Joanna Fragopoulos

Ads that connect people to each other, and themselves, set an example and standard for all brands to show an array of how different people live. Creating and fostering inclusivity, instead of showing sameness, is a brand strategy that isn't just about business, but human progress.

For people with disabilities, who have often faced prejudice, stereotyping, and isolation, it's important to be portrayed accurately and authentically — and to see people as who they are.

For brands, this means creating internal change within (whether that's through inclusive hires and research) to create external content that reflects reality, not tokenism or stereotypes.

The 2022 Multicultural Excellence Awards showcase and highlight campaigns that do just this. Below are some award-winning campaigns that focused on people with disabilities.


Degree created its Trainers for Hire program, a database of differently-abled trainers, to foster inclusivity in the fitness sector for people with disabilities. According to the ANA case study, the company's "purpose is to inspire the confidence in everyone to move more, which is why the brand set out to help athletes with disabilities break down the ableist standards that have been holding them back for decades."

The company commissioned a study with the Lakeshore Foundation and discovered that 87 percent of people with disabilities don't feel represented by the fitness industry.

The case study went on to describe the website the brand launched, which was a "one-stop-shop for the fitness industry, providing each athlete's full resume, contact info and qualifications — and ensuring fitness industry leaders were left with no excuse not to hire a trainer with a disability. Digital out-of-home ads inside the businesses Degree was trying to convince (ex: gyms and fitness centers) and an open letter in the New York Times highlighted the problem and drove the audience to its job site."


Toyota highlighted Paralympian Brian McKeever and his brother, Robin; the brothers teamed together to help Brian pursue his athletic ambitions despite his visual impairment. As the ANA case study described, the company conducted research to "give the viewer an idea of what skiing would be like for someone with Stargardt's disease. Working with its visual effects team, the brand created a blur effect to simulate Brian McKeever's visual impairment to heighten the disorientation and the sense of danger it produced."


Mastercard launched a payment card for blind and partially sighted customers that helped 2.2 billion around the world; the cards have cutout notches that allow anyone to identify their cards with just a touch.

To make sure the card was truly helpful, Mastercard had the design vetted and endorsed by The Royal National Institute of Blind People in the U.K. and VISIONS/Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired in the U.S.

Canadian Down Syndrome Society

Mindsets, a study that Canadian Down Syndrome Society conducted, proved there is a link "between increased physical activity and increased cognition for the Down syndrome community," which illustrates countless opportunities for this community.

Moreover, the organization included people with Down syndrome who were 18 and older and willing to take part in a physical activity study. Canadian Down Syndrome Society then partnered with 50 influencers in the Down syndrome community to reach an international community and create awareness on the "importance of fitness."

To browse the full library of Multicultural Excellence case studies, click here.

Joanna Fragopoulos is a director of editorial and content development at ANA.

The views and opinions expressed in Industry Insights are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the ANA or imply endorsement from the ANA.