‘Assume That I Can,’ says CoorDown’s new campaign supporting people with Down syndrome

The spot explores the concept of the self-fulfilling prophecy, where what you assume comes true

Published On
Mar 14, 2024
Girl with Down syndrome works at a desk job

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It’s dangerous to assume. Specially, in the case of people with Down syndrome, it’s detrimental to assume low expectations of them simply because of their intellectual disabilities.

That’s the message behind CoorDown’s latest campaign with agency Small, launched in time for World Down Syndrome Day (March 21).

Launched on Thursday globally, “Assume I Can” is an awareness campaign that calls for an end to the biases and stereotypes inflicted upon people with Down syndrome and invites others to support their full potential.

In a hero film, a young woman with Down syndrome challenges the assumptions others make of her and offers a reversal of that perspective. In the beginning, the people around her make negative assumptions about her abilities: that she can’t drink a cocktail, study Shakespeare, learn to box, excel at a job, play sports and more, effectively making it true by denying her participation in those activities.

But the protagonist invites the viewer, and society at large, to assume that she can do all those things. Suddenly, she presents a world in which she can drink a cocktail, learn Shakespeare, learn to box and more because those around her believed she could. 

 

The overarching message is that if everyone believes in and trusts people with Down syndrome, they can have a positive impact and help them achieve even the most unexpected goals.

The campaign was inspired by the sociological and psychological concept of the self-fulfilling prophecy, first described in 1948 by U.S. sociologist Robert K. Merton. According to the concept, people’s assumptions and expectations affect events to such an extent that the initial prophecy comes true. 

For example, a teacher who thinks that a student cannot understand, and refuses to teach the student, fulfills the prophecy that the student will not learn, said Marta Sodano, a 29-year-old Italian woman with Down syndrome during the World Down Syndrome Day Conference at the United Nations, who also inspired the campaign. 

“In my opinion, there are no difficult or easy concepts, there is always a simple way to explain things. If I think of all the things that were not explained and taught to me, well, I really get angry,” she said in her speech.

However, if a teacher believes students can learn, challenges them and finds the right strategies to teach their subject matter, most likely they will learn it. The same applies if a parent supports and believes in their child and provides them with experiences that give them the ability to make their own choices. 

Similarly, the theory can be applied in work or social settings, school, sports and more. 

“Every year, CoorDown, with their creative and production partners, tries to disrupt perception on the world of disabilities with a campaign that can carry the weight of a strong creative insight that can shine a new light on stereotypes and biases that are part of the lives of people with Down syndrome—and all intellectual disabilities as a whole,” Karim Bartoletti, partner, managing director and executive producer at Indiana Production, said in a statement.

“We thought the insight of the campaign was so strong that we adopted it in every aspect of production. ‘You assume that I will shoot this campaign like any other commercial that deals with disabilities?’ ‘You assume we cannot find an actor or an actress that can carry the weight of the whole film on his or her shoulder?’… If we want to create awareness and break boundaries through the work that we create and produce, we need to do it ourselves. We assumed we could and we certainly did, because it certainly shows in the originality and power and creative strength of this year’s CoorDown World Down Syndrome Day campaign.” 

The international campaign kicks off Thursday with CoorDown in Italy, and will be launched worldwide with the support of several international associations including: Canadian Down Syndrome Society, National Down Syndrome Society, Global Down Syndrome Foundation, Down's Syndrome Association UK, Down Syndrome Australia and New Zealand Down Syndrome Association.

Beginning today until March 21, CoorDown and its partners will broadcast the real experiences of people with Down syndrome and their families from all over the world, on their social media accounts. 

The theme of this year's World Down Syndrome Day is “End the stereotypes!” 

Credits

Date
Mar 14, 2024
Client :
CoorDown
Agency :
Small
Executive Creative Director :
Luca Pannese
Executive Creative Director :
Luca Lorenzini
Creative Director :
Paolo Montanari
Managing Director :
Alberto Scorticati
Account Manager :
Chiara Guadagnini
Production Company :
Indiana Production
Director :
Rich Lee
DP :
Christopher Probst
Executive Producer :
Karim Bartoletti
Senior Producer :
Silvia Bergamaschi
Editor :
Luca Angeleri
Original Music :
Stabbiolo Music
Original Music :
Alessandro Cristofori
Original Music :
Diego Perugini
Colorist :
Danilo Vittori
Post Production Audio :
Bravagente
Senior Post Producer :
Alga Pastorelli
Post Production Video :
22 Dogs

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