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Mastercard's 'Spotlight' On The Visually Impaired, Priceless

How do you engage an audience? Through sound? Compelling visuals? Narrations? What if you did it with all three? Perhaps these are the questions Mastercard asked during the conception of their new ‘Spotlight’ ad. Promoting the Touch Card, a first-of-its-kind accessible payment card system, Mastercard merged inclusivity and accessibility. In a world where advertisements are largely marketed to sighted people, Mastercard put the visually impaired community front and center.
Created by McCann New York, the ad takes audiences on a walk to a local coffee shop with ‘Marjorie,’ played by Marilee Talkington, an actress, writer, director, creator, consultant, and disability advocate. Through thoughtful narration, audiences are brought into the everyday life of the visually impaired.

Raja Rajamannar–chief marketing and communications officer and president, healthcare Mastercard–stated, “As a company, we want to be all about inclusion…Disability is a big aspect we all have to pay attention to.”

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “globally, at least 2.2 billion people have a near or distance vision impairment.” In the U.S. alone, 61 million Americans live with a disability–falling into one of six types: mobility, cognition, hearing, vision, independent living, and self care. The numbers are significant enough to ponder why more advertisements do not cater to the disabled.

While we may not be able to pin an exact reason, marketers are beginning to focus their attention on consumers with disabilities, a segment of the population that has long existed and, in spite of their spending power, have been overlooked, misrepresented, and stereotyped.

To engage the disabled community, values such as authenticity and accessibility must be at the forefront. Mastercard, in partnering with organizations such as VISIONS and the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), took a step in promoting such values by first, working with an actress who is a member of the disabled community versus an actress portraying a disability. Secondly, the company utilizes descriptive audio; which allows people with visual impairments to follow along with what is taking place. The one missing component, to bring the ad full circle, is closed captions–making it possible for people with hearing impairments to be fully engaged.
Appealing to an audience, as companies and marketers are learning, goes beyond traditional methods such as visuals and targeting select groups. These entities have the potential to create immersive experiences that involve engaging all audiences and even incorporating senses, other than sight, into their marketing.

Mastercard, following in the footsteps of several other companies, in creating an ad that highlights the disabled community and their consumer needs, has joined the campaign for disability inclusion. If only one word can be used to describe their attempt to engage multiple senses, captivate communities of people, and create connections, it is only fitting that that word be priceless.


About the author: Latanya Muhammad is a freelance writer and the owner of CITYS, LLC, a digital content company offering copywriting, editing, and content creation. To connect, submit all inquiries to latanyammuhammad@gmail.com or visit @citys.llc on Instagram.
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