Target: Steve Sharp, Executive Director of Marketing of Marks and Spencer
Goal: To thank a British retailer for featuring a child with Down Syndrome in its Christmas campaign
Currently, there is a poor representation of individuals with disabilities in commercial media. Caroline White noticed the lack of models with disabilities and sought to amend the situation by placing her four-year-old son, Seb, in a commercial or an ad. Seb suffers from Down Syndrome. After being rejected by several other companies, the British company, Marks and Spencer gave Caroline and Seb the opportunity to challenge stereotypes directed towards individuals with disabilities by featuring Seb in its Christmas ads.
By placing Seb in its ads, Marks and Spencer has made Seb the first model with Down Syndrome in a British television commercial for a major brand. In addition to placing Seb in its regular ads, Marks and Spencer made the decision to place him in ads for its Christmas campaign. These ads are a part of Marks and Spencer’s most highly anticipated annual campaign; Seb will be receiving a lot of exposure from these popular ads.
Initially, Seb was only to be placed in the company’s Christmas catalog. After a successful photo shoot, Seb was asked to return for the company’s televised Christmas commercial. Seb was able to captivate the hearts of Mark and Spencer’s staff; his “natural charm and magical personality” compelled them to call him back for the commercial.
Although Seb is included in the Christmas campaign, no extra emphasis is placed on him or his disability in the ads. This is extremely important because Marks and Spencer is conveying the message that Seb is no different than the other models in the ad; he is just another one of the happy children. The fact that no special attention is given to Seb in the ad helps challenge the stereotypes surrounding individuals with disabilities. Down Syndrome does not segregate Seb from the other children or the activities taking place in the ad; if the other children can do it, Seb can do it too.
Marks and Spencer has given Seb and other individuals with disabilities a wonderful gift. The company has shown that all individuals deserve and are entitled to the same opportunities. Sign the petition below to thank Marks and Spencer for including Seb in its Christmas campaign.
Dear Mr. Sharp,
I would like to say thank you to both you and the company of Marks and Spencer for featuring Seb White in your Christmas campaign ads. By placing him in your ads, you have made Seb the first model with Down Syndrome to be in a British television commercial for a major brand. Currently, models with disabilities in commercial media are very sparse. This is often due to society seeing individuals with disabilities as being “different,” but you and the company have shown that you rise above discrimination and stereotypes.
I commend you for placing Seb in a highly anticipated campaign, instead of placing him in a small ad. Your company is sending the message that disabilities should not affect the opportunities that are available to an individual. You have shown that all individuals deserve and are entitled to the same opportunities. Thank you for challenging the stereotypes associated with individuals suffering from disabilities.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Hannu-Makarainen via Flickr