Creature Discomforts – sheer brilliance!

Whether you are familiar with the animated film/series Creature Comforts, you can quickly grasp the concept of Creature Discomforts (YouTube). These are short television commercials, aired in the UK, which were prepared by Aardman Animation for Leonard Cheshire Disability.

These commercials show animals, well, creatures, with disabilities, telling their story to an unseen interviewer. You can meet an owl in a wheelchair, a chameleon with low vision, a deaf cat, and many more creatures who air their thoughts about disabilities and their own lives in a quiet and unassuming way.

There are no human beings in a wheelchair, which could conjure up your own prejudices. Instead you meet a wheelchair user who happens to a hedgehog, who is also pouring out a “spot of tea” while chatting with the camera. According to the behind-the-scenes videos, Leonard Cheshire Disability wanted to re-brand their charity organization in the UK. Their target audience was actually the 35-55 year old segment, who may have reached the point in life where they are more settled in their own lives, and who now are looking at what they can do in – or for – their society. During the development of the animations, Leonard Cheshire Disability discovered that they can reach everyone.

Watch an interview from the BBC with Bryon Dutton. You can learn how the advertisements were made, but more importantly, why they were made in Behind the Scenes of Creature Discomfort *Part 1* and Behind the Scenes of Creature Discomfort *Part 2* which includes subtitles and sign language. As one of the creators of the ads states, making something that is entertaining, informative, and not patronizing is really very tricky. The benefit of the animations is the use of the old trick where society is reflected in a very different setting. I think there is great inspiration for technical communicators in this entire project!

The television ads are for people with vision and include sound, but they also include a subtitled version and a sign-language version. There are also ads made for the radio. This is a good example of making the same message accessible to visitors with or without hearing or vision disabilities.

The charity just wants you to change the way you perceive disabilities. I think they have tackled the difficult job of communicating their goal to you in a very clever way. Does it work for you?