The Access Agency

SA tourism campaign shows life, not limits

People with disability only travel when they’re on their way to the Paralympics. Or so our screens would have us believe.

But a campaign for the South Australian Tourism Commission is helping to change this – with subtlety, sensitivity and power.

We chatted to Joe Godsell, Managing Director of TBWA\Adelaide, the agency behind the For Those Who Want a Little More campaign – a masterclass in inclusive tourism advertising.

While the diversity of humans in the ad is broad, it doesn’t feel laboured or like it’s driven by an inclusion checklist. The opposite, it’s a masterclass in tourism advertising.

TBWA\Adelaide Managing Director Joe Godsell credits the work to the director, an open and supportive client and the company’s philosophy of authenticity.

“We’re all just people,” Joe says. “It may be that you’re missing an arm, or your legs don’t work … or you might be a little larger than most. That’s the normality we want to recognise.

“We just want to represent society – everyone’s a purchaser, everyone’s a user of products, so why showcase or highlight a narrow band of humanity?”

It’s a question asked by Bob Hoffman too. The US advertising veteran has plenty to say about marketing’s obsession with youth.

He points out, in the United States, Baby Boomers (who are more and more likely to experience a reduced mobility) are the target of only 10 per cent of advertising, despite controlling 70 per cent of the wealth. They’re massively under-represented.

The same is occurring in disability representation. In the UK, a study by Lloyds Bank found that while people with disability make up about 20 per cent of the population, only 0.06 per cent of ads show people with disabilities. (And when they do, it’s usually healthcare-related.)

Then there’s the survey by wheelchair-travel expert John Morris of His questions, to physically disabled Americans, found only 7 per cent had seen disabled people in travel advertising in the past 12 months.

Mike Hodin, head of the Global Coalition on Aging urges, “Diversity ‘isn’t charity, it’s smart business”. And some travel businesses are catching on: cruises, guided tours and adventure tourism, as well as holiday rental sites, are a few of the areas where accessible tourism is being acknowledged and embraced.

But what stands out about the SATC campaign is that it’s targeted at everyone. It’s inclusive in an incidental way – the hero is still the destination.

“We wanted to sell the point that South Australia is a place where you can have really memorable moments,” Joe says, adding that one of SATC’s key brand values was “authenticity”.

“The client said, ‘We don’t want to be overly stylised – it needs to feel authentic, because that’s what you’ll feel when you come to South Australia’.”

Indeed, the ads are realistic and heart-rending, but don’t labour the idea of disability or difference (from the young, slim, white, able-bodied norm).

Joe credits director Patrick Fileti, for turning the agency’s intention and strategy into something “absolutely beautiful”. “In the end, we had our client in tears … Good tears.”

The original script said “Siblings having a family moment in the water”. Patrick included the detail that one family member had a disability.

“But that’s it, that’s all we wrote – we weren’t prescriptive,” Joe says. “We recruited the boys, and consulted with the parents, as you would for any performer – what they needed and so on. They said, just turn everything into a game.

“It was so clear that the older brother just adored his little brother … In the end, what stood out was not disability, but the chemistry between them.”

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