Before taking the time to read our blog, please note that the views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the organisation.
Maltesers are well-known for being the brand that offers a ‘lighter way to enjoy chocolate’ – an adage that is most certainly reflected in their latest string of adverts designed to show the lighter side of having a disability.
My personal favourite has got to be the ad that shows a young lady in a wheelchair, who, when asked ‘how was the wedding?’ by a friend, goes on to explain how she had an unfortunate mishap that involved running over the bride’s foot – demonstrated by slamming her purse down on the table to crush a Malteser. Oops! (Luckily I’ve not had to endure the embarrassment of experiencing the exact same situation thank goodness, but I may have been responsible for accidentally crushing the odd toe or two along the way! Equally as mortifying, I might add.)
Still, enough about me and back to the ad which concludes with the young lady quipping about how she still managed to get the best man’s number. Cheeky!
But while the advert seems to have been greatly hailed for helping to increase the representation of disabled people in mainstream media, something that has been hotly debated is the representation of disability and whether or not it succeeds in striking the right balance between being light-hearted or being slightly cringeworthy.
Whatever your view, it’s not the representation side of things that bothers me a great deal, to be perfectly honest. I think it’s refreshing to see disabled people being featured on television outside of the norm of talking about issues related to their disability or as inspirational figures to be admired for what they’ve managed to achieve.
For once, it was nice to see that we could be appreciated for things other than those that relate to our disabilities – for having a sense of humour, for sharing stories about the misadventures of our social lives, for simply being allowed to show that disability isn’t always something that has to be treated seriously, that it’s okay to see the funny side of things.
Something that did strike me though was their timing – first aired to coincide with the Opening Ceremony of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, the adverts were released at a time when the world was about to come together once again to celebrate disability and diversity. Great, but (there’s always a but) I couldn’t help but wonder why these brilliant ads hadn’t been allowed to be shown in their own right, unattached from the timing of the Paralympics.
I passionately believe that to work towards being truly inclusive this needs to happen. Just like the ads created by Maltesers, I really think that if we are to break through into having a more frequently visible representation of disabled people, we need to see more of these quirky, innovative adverts to show that there is a light side to disability and that it can be celebrated and explored a great deal more.