Harnessing the power of sport to amplify 1.2 billion voices
An impossible-to-miss campaign to launch a ten year movement for change.
In 2021, to shine a light on disability inclusion and amplify the voices of the 1.2 billion people across the globe living with disabilities, together with the IPC and the IDA, we created:
#WeThe15 - an impossible-to-miss campaign to launch a ten year movement for change.
15% of the world’s population live with disabilities. That’s 1 billion people. As the world’s largest minority, they face daily stigmatisation and exclusion from society.
85% of them live in poverty. 50% of them are unemployed. 75% of countries have no laws protecting them.
Despite this, the issue of disability inclusion rarely reaches the top of the public agenda.
Together with the IPC and IDA we sought to tackle this pervasive human rights issue and sow the seeds for much-needed change.
Gone are the days when the mainstream media looked at people with disabilities as somehow less than human. But that has been replaced by another problem - one that’s harder to confront, because it doesn’t come from an evil or malicious place. And that's that people with disabilities tend to be seen in two ways; either as figures of pity, or as heroes to be put on a pedestal.
These persisting misconceptions act as a barrier to inclusion.
We set out to achieve 3 objectives:
1) Increase awareness of the scale of the issue: our research showed 43% of people underestimated how many people live with disabilities. If we could wake the world up to the fact that 15% of people live with a disability, we could impress the importance of inclusion on them.
2) Shift attitudes towards people with disabilities. Those living with disabilities describe being treated with either pity, or as a misplaced source of inspiration - what is termed “inspiration porn” by the community. This, however well-intentioned, is a barrier to them being seen as ordinary people who want and deserve to participate in society like everyone else.
Therefore, we set out to show that people with disabilities are wonderfully ordinary. Flawed, funny, individual, complicated and not “special”.
We needed to achieve this without a media budget. This gave us a 3rd objective:
3) Act like a movement, not an ad campaign.
We created #WeThe15.
An impossible-to-miss campaign to launch a ten-year movement for change. Harnessing the visibility of the Paralympics to drive home just how big a part of humanity the 15% really are, while shattering the damaging myth that people with disabilities are ‘special’.
Disability is humanity. Not abnormality.
We set out to do this by forming the following:
We created a movement FROM, not just FOR, the 15% with a rallying name, WeThe15 and a rallying cry: See us, Hear us, Include us.
A logo was created that could be adopted to show inclusion or allyship with an iconic purple colour we set out to own. Alongside this, we made a film for the 15% to tell the world exactly who they are which included a coalition of 20 global organisations. We needed a moment to launch the campaign that fit with our rallying cry & mission. We identified the Tokyo Paralympic Games as the moment to launch our movement.
With the world’s attention concentrated and the discourse around disability at its peak, it was the perfect opportunity to achieve our objectives. We took over the opening ceremony - lighting it up purple, beaming out our logo. This meant that we were able to use the power of film to turn the attention of the 250m people watching the ceremony to our cause. This film featured a diverse cast of people with disabilities, addressing the world with humour and candour, inviting them to cast out limiting stereotypes, and to see the 15% as wonderfully ordinary.
But we didn’t finish there. We filled OOH sites around the world with stats highlighting the scale of change needed, including iconic sites like Times Square and Piccadilly Lights. In total, 225 iconic landmarks over 6 continents lit up purple in a show of solidarity.
Our logo was adopted by the community on social media, filling profiles and timelines. Athletes even wore it as a (temporary!) tattoo during the games.
Our rallying cry had become a movement.
- Media budget
- Pieces of global coverage
- People reached
- Of humanity united for the first time
- Twitter impressions
- Interactions on meta channels
- 710, 000
- Views on Youtube
- Views on Tiktok of disability awareness
International Paralympic Committee - #WeThe15
In 2021, to shine a light on disability inclusion and amplify the voices of the 1.2 billion people across the globe living with disabilities, together with the IPC and the IDA, we created… #WeThe15- an impossible-to-miss campaign to launch a ten year movement for change.