People with disabilities make up about 20% of the population, but are featured in less than 2% of the images we see in the media. We set out to change that.
Oath is a global media company that reaches over 1 billion diverse consumers around the world through brands such as Yahoo, AOL, Tumblr, HuffPost, Makers Women and TechCrunch. We are leaders in accessibility and design products and media that everyone can use, including people with disabilities. Our teams use over 700,000 stock images from Getty Images per year but we had a hard time finding enough modern, diverse and authentic disability imagery.
Getty Images has been our preferred photo provider for over ten years, and in the last year they also saw a spike in disability-related image searches — "wheelchair access" searches were up 371%, and autism-related searches climbed 434%. Visual trends are moving towards "authentic" representations and consumers increasingly prefer brands that are inclusive, socially aware, and act in line with their values.
Seeing the increasing need, Oath, Getty Images and the National Disability Leadership Alliance partnered to to revolutionize how the world sees disability. Out of this partnership came The Disability Collection, the first-of-its-kind, growing stock-photo library created to empower the media with more representative and authentic imagery of people with disabilities
Visibility matters – Media and advertising shapes culture, attitudes and beliefs. Not seeing people like yourself in the media is 'symbolic annihilation' — and impacts how individuals and communities are seen and treated. Seeing powerful depictions of people who represent you and to whom you can relate empowers, self-validates, inspires, and changes what we see as possible. Representation can dispel stigma and reverse negative bias. People with disabilities need to be authentically included in media so other people see them the same way they see themselves.
Beyond good intentions – It became clear after working on projects where we wanted to have inclusive imagery, there weren't enough images and resources available to feature audiences with disabilities. Even with good intentions, it was clear the media industry wouldn't be able to make representation more inclusive until there was more authentic imagery available.
Partnering for change – We understood that in order to make the most impact, Oath couldn't tackle this problem alone. We approached Getty and the National Disability Leadership Alliance (NDLA) to forge a partnership that could make an impact. A partnership between two global media companies and members of the disability community was necessary to optimize the scale and reach of our campaign. Our organizations were able to leverage the power of our communities to come together to create change.
Strategy and Implementation
Oath and Getty Images partnered with the NDLA, which is made up of 17 leading national disability advocacy organizations, to ensure people with disabilities were central to this project.
Oath conducted disability focus groups and an online survey to learn how people with disabilities perceived current representation in imagery and how they wanted to be represented. From these insights and additional research, Oath, the NDLA and Getty Images developed a comprehensive set of photography guidelines to develop the collection. The guidelines were shared and promoted across Getty Images' global network of photographers.
Together, we launched the collection via an integrated marketing campaign on Global Accessibility Awareness Day (May 17, 2018), targeting Disability Affinity audiences (disability leaders, people with disabilities, advocacy organizations, families, friends, and caregivers) and a secondary audience of creative decision makers (marketers, producers, creatives, art directors, photographers, and designers).
The campaign ran across across PR, social media (including extensive use of disability leaders and influencers from creative production to campaign execution), Oath owned-and-operated media and grassroots outreach through NDLA. Our partnership provided the opportunity to tap into leading disability advocates and influencers, as well as Oath and Getty brand loyalists and followers, to promote our campaign launch. The fully accessible Disability Collection landing page took over the homepage of Oath.com. We engaged WNBA and Olympic medalist Tamika Catchings as our Board of Advisor spokesperson on social media and editorial BUILD Series, Yahoo Sports and Makers Women. We activated 15 national advocacy organizations via the NDLA to amplify the launch through grassroots communications. Our messaging toolkit supported partner activation and successfully drove consistent, coordinated messaging across NDLA partner organizations, Getty Images, social influencers, employees and industry.
Our goal in the Disability Collection was to create a global library of authentic disability imagery and increase the number of available images that authentically represent people with disabilities.
We distributed comprehensive photo guidelines, that was developed in partnership with the NDLA, on how to authentically represent people with disabilities in photography. These guidelines were distributed to thousands of photographers within Getty's network and made publicly available. This is a growing collection that will increase as more photographers submit to the collection.
We announced the launch of The Disability Collection on Global Accessibility Awareness Day, through a joint press release with Getty Images and the NDLA, and earned press coverage in Fast Company, CNET, PN Magazine, New Mobility, and JWT Intelligence.
On social, the launch garnered an organic reach of 18.5 million social impressions and 93% earned social reach. Paid social drove over 3M total impressions and over 250k video views at extremely low rates due to high natural engagement and interest.
TheDisabilityCollection.com and Oath.com homepage takeover collectively garnered ~300,000 impressions and 200 hours of time spent in the first two weeks of the launch. The Disability Collection landing page garnered over 18,000 page views and over 11,000 unique visitors, with 200 hours spent in its initial launch.
Display ads on our O&O properties garnered over 23 million impressions and over 8,000 clicks.
We also engaged our 15,000 employees globally through a global accessibility awareness day campaign promoting the partnership launch.