Disrupting Society’s Assumptions About Disability – Coordown’s Viral International Video Campaigns

By Catia Malaquias

In the disability media context, we often hear about “public awareness” campaigns – the need to make the public aware of a particular type of disability or condition.  These campaigns, often associated with fund-raising for disability associations, often have the negative effect of reinforcing society’s historically-based assumptions of disability.

Over the last few years, Coordown, Italy’s national Down syndrome association, working with creative directors Luca Pannese and Luca Lorenzini (formerly of Satchi & Satchi (Milan and New York) and now with Publicis Worldwide (New York)), has led the production of a number of award-winning international media campaigns for World Down Syndrome Day.

Coordown’s campaigns stand out as they are about much more than just creating “public awareness” – they are creative and beautifully produced social advocacy campaigns that seek to disrupt and challenge society’s preconceptions about Down syndrome and disability generally.

As mass-reach media campaigns, Coordown’s campaigns are also valuable in their penetrating representation of people with disability in mainstream media.  The campaigns have been featured on commercial television, at sporting events, in mainstream magazines (print and on-line), on social media and more recently have been supported by internet websites.  One of the Coordown campaigns, Dear Future Mom, their most awarded and probably best known, was banned from French television, and the ban is presently being challenged in the European Court of Human Rights.

Take the time to watch some of Coordown’s campaigns over the last few years – they are each about 2 minutes long.

I was very privileged to be involved in the last few.

INTEGRATION DAY – Including people with Down syndrome in mainstream media, employment and the community – disrupting the absence of people with Down syndrome in society and media.

Click here to watch video.


DEAR FUTURE MOM – Everyone has the right to be happy – disrupting negative assumptions about the lives of people with Down syndrome.

Click here to watch video.


THE SPECIAL PROPOSAL – Standing up for the right to love and to choose where and with whom you live – disrupting assumptions about the lives of adults with Down syndrome.

Click here to watch video.


HOW DO YOU SEE ME? – Highlighting society’s prejudiced responses to people with Down syndrome by “tricking” the viewer into recognising their double standards as the basis for their response to people Down syndrome.

Click here to watch video.


NOT SPECIAL NEEDS – Challenging the ‘special needs’ label – disrupting the notion of “special needs”.

Click here to watch video.


INCLUDE US FROM THE START – LEA GOES TO SCHOOL – The need to remove the barriers to inclusive education – disrupting the idea that children with Down syndrome and other disabilities should be educated in separate settings and follow a segregated life-path.

Click here to watch video.


Last, as gratuitous entertainment and as an insight into the personalities of “Luca & Luca” – as the two creative leads for the campaigns are affectionately known – who have led the teams involved in each of these campaigns, generously giving their talent and efforts each year since 2012, watch Don’t cry for me Satchi & Satchi which was created to mark their move from Milan to New York.

Click here to watch video.

[Cover photo © CoorDown]

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