Influencers are a core pillar for many brands’ marketing strategies, but advocates say that more could be done to work with deaf and disabled creators. People with disabilities make up 15% of the population, accounting for nearly 1 billion people, according to the World Health Organization, representing a sizable market for brands to potentially connect with.
In the last few months, there has been more deaf and disabled representation on screen. Apple TV’s film “CODA” won best picture at the Oscars, and deaf actor Troy Kotsur won the Academy Award and other awards for his best supporting actor role in the film. Snapchat ran ads during the awards show for its fingerspelling filter in honor of the nominations. More recently, the Inevitable Foundation, a non-profit with a mission to close the disability representation gap, ran an out-of-home campaign in major cities to highlight the disabled talent still missing from screens.
For many advocates, working with deaf and disabled creators is just good business. “I think that brands still underestimate the buying power of the disabled consumer,” Von Harris, operations manager at TBWA\Chiat\Day, wrote in an email. “Like most other consumers, the disabled are also brand loyal. If we see a brand that includes us in their advertising, we will support them. Why leave money on the table? It all boils down to dollars and cents.”
Seeing this opportunity is what led influencer agency Whalar to acquire C Talent, a disabled-led talent management and consultancy company that represents high-profile deaf and disabled talent, including actors, writers, and producers. C Talent will become a special unit within Whalar, bringing around 85 new creators into Whalar’s talent offering.