Cannes Lions

Is the advertising industry doing enough for Disabled talent?


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Presentation Image
Case Film






Where ‘expertise’ is expected from a law firm, it’s the connection on a ‘human’ level that differentiates them from the pack. We wanted to develop a deeper meaning of what the ‘human touch’ meant, both in front of and behind the camera. The idea was to put inclusivity at the heart of the campaign, and we took it one step further, challenging industry norms with the way we tackled the production. The Advertising Association cites that Disabled talent is underrepresented with the industry employing just 9% vs 20% working population. So, our production team was made up of 30% Disabled talent, with 60% in senior roles – including blind photographer Ian Treherne, wheelchair user and director Owen Tooth, and musician Derek Paravicin, who is blind and autistic. Meanwhile, we brought empathy to life onscreen using real Irwin Mitchell clients to share their personal stories, highlighting the impact of case outcomes.


Our campaign provided a fresh, creative approach to that seen with traditional legal advertising with a unique production model that turned existing advertising production standards on its head. The whole creative concept focused on working with Disabled talent to show clients’ emotional journeys that would resonate with all audiences. Photography and filming, editing, make-up and music were all produced by a team which included Disabled talent. We wanted to feature real Irwin Mitchell clients and portray that each individual has their own needs, challenges and pain points, while also highlighting how Irwin Mitchell empathises and matches these. Clients include a businessman who has a long-term relationship with Irwin Mitchell and another man whose business was involved in a major acquisition. The campaign emphasises that Irwin Mitchell’s personal, human approach helps to turn the negative emotions that are in evidence when choosing a law firm into a positive state of mind.


Breathing human emotions into the story was at the heart of the campaign, which is why the approach for finding the right team was so important. Our ambition was to populate the production team with as many creatives with disability as possible. We worked closely with filmmakers Annex and our own team to find the Disabled creative talent, doing considerable research into where to source talent, personalising our communications, and gathering CVs. Building on the core concept of human connection, we featured real Irwin Mitchell clients on screen. We didn’t underestimate the importance of understanding the diverse target audience: a mix of corporate, private wealth and personal injury clients, as each audience has its own needs, challenges, and pain points. The emotional journeys we portray are common to all audiences and our onscreen creative worked alongside our behind the camera story to deliver a meaningful, standout campaign.


We worked with filmmakers Annex and photographer Rankin; who acted as mentors to the production team to bring the project to life. The campaign launched in National Inclusion Week 2021 and is expected to run for the next two years across TV, press, radio, digital, and podcasts. We also produced a statement film telling the story of the production and the behind the camera talent. We are proud to say it made an impact in bringing the issue of underused Disabled talent to the attention of the advertising industry, and this has led to Disabled members of the production crew being commissioned for more commercial work. The campaign also raised the profile of Irwin Mitchell massively - audiences were overwhelmingly positive, as they were able to recall and attribute the adverts to Irwin Mitchell, agreeing that it stood out amongst competitors and confirming a positive impact on brand consideration.


The most important legacy of this campaign is the positive impact on highlighting Disabled talent within the advertising industry. We are hopeful this will lead to permanent positive change. We are also altering our recruitment process in light of this campaign and are working together with Disabled talent from the production crew on a digital platform that will create access for the community and our industry. Audiences of the campaign were overwhelmingly positive, able to recall and attribute the adverts to Irwin Mitchell, actively like the campaign, confirmed that it stood out vs competitors, improved the way they felt about the company, and importantly, confirmed a positive impact on brand consideration. Comms awareness rose from 22% to 36%, 27% increase in brand searches, 37% increase in PPC enquiries since launch with cost per enquiry falling by 12%, and video view-through rates of 72%, smashing industry benchmarks.