Developing Diversity: How Marketing Can Help Fight Prejudice

New intern here! My name is Sally Hirst and I have just graduated from the University of Nottingham with a first class degree in English and Hispanic Studies. I’m now doing courses to boost my knowledge of digital marketing alongside my internship at The Dairy.

Marketing permeates everyday life and often, we don’t even realise. 

Earlier this year high street store River Island launched its #LabelsAreForClothes campaign with leading international anti-bullying charity Ditch The Label. The campaign spreads the message that ‘labels are for clothes, not kids’ and featured six children with disabilities modelling River Island clothes. These youngsters aged between 2 and 11 have a range of disabilities ranging from Down’s syndrome and cerebral palsy to dyspraxia. The images displayed on the company’s website and across their UK stores are bright and eye-catching – brilliantly presenting the children as happy and no different from the other models of the River Island Kids clothing range.

This inclusive campaign is also accompanied by donations from River Island. For every #LabelsAreForClothes T-shirt sold, £3 will be donated to Ditch The Label. This show of corporate social responsibility reflects well on the company’s image and also raises awareness of various disabilities and the social exclusion that some people suffer simply as a result of how they were born.

 Having grown up with a severely disabled brother I see the messages put out by River Island and other big names as a very positive step forward to help challenge people’s misconceptions and, dare I say, prejudices.

 For many, seeing others who have the same disabilities being included in industries such as modelling is both heartening and inspirational. In many communities, social exclusion of those with disabilities is a pressing issue that is often overlooked.

 Charities such as Waves, a day care centre in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, work to help and integrate disabled people into their local communities by providing them with work placements in local businesses such as cafes and farm shops. Very few other day care centres are so forward-thinking.

 Waves’ use of social media is limited, yet effective. The charity showcases members out and about working or visiting the local community, enjoying residential trips and playing games and activities at Waves’ centre. In short, the group’s Facebook page displays the people as integrated and happy in their community.

Large international companies with a far larger audience should also be encouraged to promote inclusion, and show support for those who have disabilities and therefore face bullying and social exclusion in their everyday lives. They can do this through campaigns and social media, spreading the message far and wide so that it becomes normal to see disabled people in promotional roles rather than as a surprise or even, for some, a shock.

Here’s hoping that more inclusive campaigns are launched in the near future!

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