By Catia Malaquias
Julius’ has been smiling in letter boxes around Australia. Just one of many children with disability featured in Target Australia’s advertising campaigns leading up to Christmas – in catalogues, TV commercials and in-store advertising.
And while in some ways, at the tender age of 9 years, Julius is practically a modelling “veteran”, having featured in many nationwide advertising campaigns over the years, seeing him and other models with disability represented on the pages of Target Australia’s catalogues never gets old.
The fact is that as a society, we are still some way away from the day participation of children like Julius, not only in general advertising but also on TV, in regular schools and later in open employment, will be commonplace and accepted without surprise or hesitation.
Inclusive advertising and mainstream media matter because, by representing people with disability in authentic and positive ways, they help to build attitudinal pathways towards a more inclusive society.
But this week’s Target catalogue is particularly meaningful to me. You see, the two girls shown with Julius happen to be his big sister, Laura, and little sister Drea.
I can’t help but feel a little bit emotional looking at this happy smiling brood – I see them through the same eyes that, in Julius’ early years, were so disappointed not to see a family like mine represented in mainstream media. Today, the family I see is actually my family, and I hope that this means something to others – as I know that it would have meant something to me.
More importantly, I hope it means something to children with disability who, like all children, in developing their own individual identities, benefit from seeing others who may share a similar experience, portrayed in a positive and inclusive manner. Equally, all children benefit from seeing not only role-models with whom they can identify – but also role-models who can teach them about the value of human diversity.
Target Australia in particular has taken Julius, me, Starting With Julius and now our family on a fantastic and fulfilling journey – one that has amplified calls for more inclusive and representative advertising through Target’s mass reach example.
It’s been just over 3 years since I reached out to Guy Russo (as the former CEO of Kmart Australia and now head of Target and Kmart) and since then I have watched the commitment of people like Nunzio Miano, Head of Creative at Target Australia, in working to develop and sustain more accessible and inclusive marketing practices, and their instrumental role in re-setting the industry standard and demonstrating that Australia is not only ready for inclusive advertising – it demands more diversity and representative advertising. That leadership has underpinned the confidence in, and growth of, more inclusive advertising in Australia’s retail, banking and corporate sectors in recent years.
I am so proud and grateful that Julius (and now Laura and Drea) have been a small part of all this.
And there’s no doubt that ‘modelling’ can be fun and enjoyable too – especially when you get to hang out with your family and friends and take all the toys home!
Merry Christmas Target Australia, Mr Russo, Mr Miano and everyone who is working towards a more inclusive Australia – wishing you all a very happy festive season!
“Diversity is who we are, inclusion is how we treat each other.”
[Cover photo © Target Australia]