Diversity and inclusion have become hot topics in the marketing world, but accessibility – the design of products, devices, services, tools and technologies so as to be usable by people with disabilities – is often overlooked in marketing and communication efforts.
Despite being around for nearly 50 years – or over a century if you want to count their predecessor of the Postmaster-General’s Department – Australia Post is hardly stuck in the past when it comes to incorporating the needs of disabled Australians into their marketing efforts. Over the past few years, they’ve quickly become one of the brands putting accessibility at the forefront of both their internal processes and external brand campaigns.
AdNews spoke to Corrina Brazel, the head of marketing communications at Australia Post, about how small changes can mean big impacts for those with accessibility requirements, what brands can do to start thinking more inclusively and why representation is so important for consumers.
Brazel said that as a brand, Australia Post has a long commitment to diversity and inclusion, but it was at the height of the pandemic that accessibility initiatives started to ramp up.
“It really dawned on me a couple of years ago when we ran a campaign called Dear Australia, which was aimed at getting the Australian public to write letters about their experiences of COVID. We took all of those letters and put them in the National Archives; in 20 years’ time, people will be able to read about what happened in 2019, when everything was a little bit crazy.
“About two weeks in to launching that campaign, our diversity and inclusion manager at Australia Post, Sharon Carroll, contacted me and said ‘Corrina, these campaigns are fantastic, but did you think about the fact that there may be people out there that can’t actually write?’ And that was a moment where I thought actually, I didn’t think of that.”
Australia Post went on to broaden the campaign to allow people to send in drawings, voice recordings and video files, with the result being a much more diverse, inclusive and rich archive of material.
“Off the back of that, I had seen that Belong had launched an ad where they had audio description on the TVC. I thought that was absolutely fantastic and wondered ‘why are more brands not doing this?’, so we audio described our TVC for Christmas 2019 and have done so ever since for all of our TVCs.”
For their most recent ‘Delivering Like Never Before’ brand campaign, Australia Post created Auslan embedded versions for connected TV and digital executions.
They’ve gone on to implement alt text on all of their social media posts – descriptions of images allowing screen readers to pick up what’s happening in that image for anyone that has low vision or is vision-impaired – as well as utilising live transcripts and Auslan interpreters in webinars.
“It’s about extending such initiatives more broadly into other areas of marketing and really trying to put accessibility at the forefront of the marketer’s mind when they’re creating a campaign, which is a different sort of approach.
“As a brand that serves all Australians, it’s imperative that we do that and it is quite sad when you scroll through a lot of social accounts from other brands that they actually don’t do this.”
“It’s lots of little things, but it culminates towards quite a big difference that we’re making with our marketing communications. We’re certainly not done – there’s lots more that we could be doing and we are looking constantly for ways in which we can improve.”
Over the last few years for their Santa Mail campaign over Christmas, any children with low vision or vision impairment have received a large text reply so that they can still write to Santa.
This year, Australia Post are suggesting to any schools or parents that have children with any form of accessibility requirements that they will create an individualised response for them in the format that they need.
“It’s a really nice way that we as a marketing team are trying to give back a little bit more into the community. By making things more accessible, you’re just broadening your reach and making your communications far more relevant to a much broader audience.
Brazel said that due to all the initiatives implemented in the last few years, employees internally at Australia Post are now looking for opportunities to do things better.
“That may mean making sure that everything that we create is screen reader enabled. It’s trying to make the process of undertaking a particular process or service on our website much more accessible. In our post office network, we’re now looking at ways something like our top five most used forms – such as mail hold or mail redirect – can be simplified so that they’re easier to utilise for people with an accessibility need or those who use English as a second language.
“We are a member of the Australian Network on Disability and they run an Access and Inclusion Index each year, which basically allows organisations that are a part of that to benchmark themselves on how they’re going in a number of key areas.
“It was really wonderful to see this year that Australia Post had jumped to seventh place in the Index. We were quite far down the list the year prior and this year’s result is a testament to some of the amazing work that has happened, not just within marketing and communications, but also more broadly within the business.
Brazel said that their increased focus on accessibility has garnered a positive response not just from the general public, but also from The Monkeys, the advertising agency of Australia Post.
“It’s been wonderful to work more closely with The Monkeys and we’re kind of going along on this journey together. One of the big requirements that we have stipulated over the last couple of years with them has been around casting of any of our commercials and trying to ensure that we are being as diverse and inclusive as possible.
“Our ‘Delivering Like Never Before’ campaign that launched in May actually featured a wheelchair user as a main character and that was super well received. We’ve had lots of lovely, lovely comments and feedback on that and I’m pleased to say that is something that we will be moving forward with for all of our campaign material.
Brazel said that to not think about being accessible with your marketing communications is limiting from a relevance and reach perspective.
“There’s an enormous amount of households within Australia that actually identify as having someone that has a disability and there’s over 4.4 million Australians that experience disabilities, so if you’re not thinking about them when you’re creating your marketing and communications, you’re doing a disservice to your own brand.
“It’s really important that as a consumer, you can see yourself reflected in advertising.
“Dylan Alcott has come to speak to us and one of the things that really resonated with me after listening to Dylan was hearing how he felt as a child growing up in a wheelchair and never seeing anyone on TV that was in a wheelchair other than someone that had been a car accident victim.
“Showing positive role modelling in our marketing of all genders, sexualities, ethnicities – whatever it might be – is so important because that’s the society in which we live. It’s an easy thing to do and I’m just thrilled that we’re on the journey of doing more of it now.”
Brazel said that Australia Post is conscious that putting accessibility at the forefront of marketing is something that is unfamiliar to a lot of marketers, so they’ve instituted regular training sessions as well as bringing in industry speakers to help educate those internally.
“We recently had a fantastic discussion with the ABC Indigenous Content Team and we have somebody coming to speak to us in November around their experiences with accessibility.
“What’s important is keeping it a constant conversation that’s front of mind and listening to new ideas because this is quite a new space and there’s a lot of people and brands who are all kind of learning as we go.”
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