Leveraging pride instead of pity on International Day of People with Disabilities
4 December 2017
December 3rd is observed as the International Day of People with Disabilities.
Many organisations mark the day with ads in newspapers and other media – showing their commitment to the cause and aiming to build their brand. Here’s a sampler of a few such 'typical' ads.
How would you do it?
Whatever the text and visuals, the “emotional” template for such ads is fairly similar. They aim to:
- Generate sympathy for the persons with disabilities
- Show the compassion that the company has for them
- Create a warm-glowing feeling about the company among the readers/general public
Nothing really wrong about that – except that it’s boring, and doesn’t stand out. One company however, decided to break this mould – and did so strikingly.
The Indigo Airlines ad
This is Indigo Airlines, a company that has ben in the news for a lot of wrong reasons fairly recently, but one that even detractors are likely to grudgingly admire for their relative efficiency. And this ad (which I came across in their magazine, in an older issue) fits in well with that overall positive brand perception. Please read the ad copy:
Storytelling lessons from the ad
So what did they do differently there?
- Mystery: The headline is intriguing and makes you think – “Really, you’re giving out the secret to your famed efficiency? I’m all eyes and ears!” With such a headline, there’s a very high chance of someone actually reading the copy. (Of course, the content better be worth the curiosity generated, so you need to be careful when using such a line).
- Unexpectedness: Nothing like a good dash of surprise to capture and hold audience attention:
- First, there’s the unexpected and heart-warming twist in crediting Indigo’s efficiency to plucky folks like Riya and Kushang. This twist is neatly resolved with the explanation: we have employed people who specialise in overcoming challenges, so no wonder our ground service is so good (recent events add so much irony to this).
- Then, the other element of surprise – instead of telling a sob-story of the challenges these guys have faced, the ad focuses on something far more positive: their go-getting attributes (the amazing fact of Riya being an international rugby player), or just relatable personality traits (Kushang being a charmer with an infectious smile). Beautifully done.
- A small digression: The ad reminded me of how Raju Hirani memorably depicts ‘seemingly’ hapless characters in his movies – for instance the seniors living in the ‘Second Innings’ old age home in “Lage Raho Munnabhai”. Instead of showing them as a group of forlorn, pitiable folks, they are depicted as a sprightly (naughty-even) bunch of young-at-heart charmers. It is memorable, because it breaks the mould.
3. The Big Connection: Good storytelling is also about making connections. In this case, an important ‘big picture’ link was made: connecting these two inspiring folks (and the International Day of PWD) with the overarching Indigo Airlines story – of efficiency and operational excellence. The latter is a well-accepted fact, and increases the credibility of the former (Indigo’s genuine efforts in working with PWD).
4. The little connections: Reading long copy can become challenging if it consists of multiple disjointed statements. Here, even in this short (around 200-word) piece, many small connections are made:
- After mentioning Riya’s rugby exploits, which has taken her team to international arenas, the next line goes: “For her the airport is no different from a rugby field, and she’s taking us places too”.
- Then, instead of abruptly jumping from Riya to Kushang, there’s a neat ‘connector’: “Many other members share Riya’s gumption. One such person is Kushang, who…”
- Finally the last para ‘closes the loop’ opened by the headline, when it says: “We thought it is time we shared our secret with the world”
Why are these little connections important? Think of your mind as a rather distracted little mouse flitting around looking for little pieces of instant-gratification-cheese. Such connections help that mouse in seeing the next piece of cheese and staying on the trail. If there is no connection/logic between two paras/statements/ slides, then the mouse is made to work to find the connection – and the next piece of cheese. The mouse does not like to work. In any case, it gets an unlimited supply of free cheese from FB, Twitter, Whatsapp, email et al… So, make it easier for the mouse – connect the cheese pieces!