Maltesers uses ‘chocolate’ braille on UK billboard advertising

Lucy Handley, special to CNBC

Mars brand Maltesers has used model chocolates to create a braille poster to champion diversity in advertising.

The advert, which appears on a London bus shelter, spells out the words: "Caught a really fast bus once, turns out it was a fire engine."

The words used for the campaign slogan came from a blind woman from Glasgow, Michelle, who took part in a focus group held by Maltesers and disability charity Scope.

An audio message accompanies the poster and directs people to Maltesers' Facebook page, where the message is translated so that sighted people can understand it.

The poster, designed by agency AMV BBDO, was unveiled as part of World Braille Day this week and will appear at the bus shelter in London's Farringdon until January 15. It is the latest iteration in the chocolate brand's "Look on the light side" campaign.

Michele Oliver, vice president of marketing at Mars Chocolate UK, said in an emailed statement: "As one of the UK's biggest advertisers, we have a responsibility and a role to play in championing greater inclusivity in our advertising and communications.

"Maltesers is the brand that looks on the light side of life and this scenario is just one example of the real-life, everyday experiences of people affected by sight loss; and in this case from Michelle in Glasgow. This small-scale activation is a natural next step in our ambition to get closer to our consumers; by normalizing disability in advertising and communications, and using humor to challenge preconceptions."

Scope welcomed the move. "Disabled people often tell us they rarely see their lives reflected in advertising campaigns and the media and that mainstream advertising remains inaccessible – this innovative billboard challenges both issues," said its head of marketing Danielle Wootton in an emailed statement.

The creative is part of the brand's aim to be more inclusive in its communications, and follows three ads featuring people with disabilities that ran during the Paralympic Games 2016: a woman with cerebral palsy, an office-worker in a wheelchair and two deaf teachers, who communicate via sign language for the whole spot. All three aired on Channel 4 during the UK broadcaster's coverage of the event's opening ceremony.

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