If you ask most people if they know what autism is, the answer is more than likely going to be ‘yeah, sort of’. Very few people truly understand the nuances, and even fewer know how to relate or engage with autistic people.
On the other side of the scale, if you asked an autistic person if ‘they felt comfortable’ or ‘accepted’ in society, the answer would often be a resounding ‘no’.
When Autism Tasmania approached us to help them build awareness and communicate a series of messages to a diverse audience we knew we needed a diverse approach.
Our challenge, coupled with general awareness, was the need for clear tactical communication around two distinctly different initiatives that were being launched around the State, aimed at two distinctly different audiences.
The first was the ‘National Assistance Card – Autism Trial’, the first of its kind being trialled in partnership with ‘Brain Injury Association Tasmania’. The second was the ‘Learning & Development Programs’ on offer through Autism Tas. The latter was targeted towards the professional and business communities, whilst the former was aimed more towards the greater Autistic Community, with a halo awareness for everyone else. This was all on top of a very limited budget.
Our campaign had to dispel the myths and encourage neuro-typical people, our primary target, to get curious about autism and embrace people’s differences. And we also needed to create content that the autistic community would be proud of, one where they felt heard and excited about the potential of the outcomes.
Exciting two audiences with one campaign
Creating a campaign that straddles both the neuro-typical and neuro-diverse worlds in an inclusive way required a nuanced touch.
We had to be careful not to offend with ableist language or sweeping generalisations. To do this we worked with a dedicated advisory team within Autism Tasmania as well as neurotypical and neurodiverse focus groups. They were able to bring a range of lived-experience to the process, allowing us to create a sophisticated ‘grown-up’ landscape. We used clear, warm and positive language, painting a picture of how bland the world would be without any diversity, and how it’s these unique attributes that should be embraced and celebrated. The development of the tone of the creative was an enormously important piece of the puzzle as we had been given clear feedback that the autism community was sick and tired of being portrayed as disabled, challenging and only worthy of sympathy or at worst unable to meet mainstream society’s expectations.
We needed to create a campaign that asked the community to ‘Be Open to Autism’
Two big initiatives with two very distinct audiences.
After the open consultation process, the work was deployed using an integrated channel approach, one where we were able to reach our audiences on multiple fronts, ensuring awareness, brand recall and ultimately, action.
Animation allowed us to tell our story in a fantastical way and it gave us creative licence where the person’s ability, age or characteristics weren’t the feature, and the audience could focus on the message and storytelling.
Our screen and radio content was created using the same colours, rhyme and plain language in a way that was easy to understand for our audience on the spectrum, whilst still being engaging for our neurotypical audiences.
And our static media, across posters, buses, stickers and digital channels, used the same bold and simple approach to its content so that it was instantly recognisable and easily remembered.
A diverse world in full colour
The campaign has been a huge success. It was launched by the Minister of Disability Services, Jo Palmer. With local TV and radio stations providing extended exposure and support due to the campaign’s objectives of positive social change and community engagement.
Our digital media reached almost 1 in 5 Tasmanians, with the Facebook gaining a 591.3% increase in reach, leading to 2,673 new Facebook page visits, a 37% increase in enquiries and over 3000 new visitors to the website during the campaign period.
There has been interest at a National level in implementing the work in other States, and most importantly the campaign has been well received across both our audiences, giving us the confidence to take the next steps in the journey of growing awareness and being ‘Open to Autism’.
Who would you choose to create a breakthrough campaign for a challenging human-centred communications brief?
We recommend that you choose Inclusive Creatives. The team dedicates their agency’s purpose and wide expertise to the inclusion cause, and the greater good of our community. Collectively working to make inclusivity more mainstream.
Autism Tas is on a fast-tracked trajectory to develop our organisation’s capabilities and capacity while educating the public on the benefits of neurodiverse people in enriching our workplaces, communities, and daily lives.
With thanks to IC’s expert team and processes, we’re forging ahead with powerful creative concepts and messaging, that will help neurotypical people become more open to Autism and play their part in appreciating the advantages of diversity and the development of a more empowered inclusive community.
Donna Blanchard – CEO, Autism Tasmania