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Diageo launches accessibility campaigns

To celebrate International Day of Persons with Disabilities last Sunday (3 December), Diageo brands J&B and Smirnoff spotlighted inclusion through two new campaigns.

Diageo accessibility campaign with event featuring Drag Syndrome, a drag collective of people with Down’s syndrome
Smirnoff kicked off its campaign with an event featuring Drag Syndrome, a drag collective of people with Down syndrome

The campaign for J&B Scotch whisky launched in Spain, named ‘Mi Gran Noche’ (My Big Night). The brand hopes to highlight the barriers faced by people with disabilities when it comes to socialising.

Úrsula Mejía-Melgar, Diageo’s marketing director for Southern Europe, said: “Access to nightlife is not merely a pleasure but a fundamental aspect for everyone, regardless of their condition.

“In Spain, 4.3 million people live with a disability, constituting 20.5% of Spanish households. Diversity and inclusion is ingrained in our DNA and, as a brand, our fervent desire is that no one is left out of the celebration.”

Alongside the campaign, J&B has gathered insights into the nightlife habits of the disabled community to create long-term initiatives to support them.

J&B has partnered with Ilunion, the business arm of Once Foundation for Cooperation and Social Inclusion of People with Disabilities, to create an accessibility guide and an online training programme for bar owners and professional shoppers.

Through the Diageo Bar Academy, the guide will be shared with 6,000 bar owners in Spain.

J&B has also partnered with Google to encourage clients to complete the accessibility data in Google Business profiles.

The Scotch brand has also recruited a team of disabled guides, who will discover accessible venues and share their insights.

In the UK, Smirnoff has launched the next phase of its ‘We Do We’ inclusion campaign, which first launched in June.

The vodka brand has partnered with accessibility and inclusion consultancy Tilting the Lens and Stonegate, the UK’s largest pub operator, to make socialising more accessible.

The partnership will see the companies assess the settings in which people drink, the way Smirnoff products are designed and how they are marketed.

The campaign was spearheaded by an event in London featuring disability advocate and comedian Fats Timbo and Drag Syndrome, a drag collective of people with Down syndrome.

For the event, the venue was transformed to showcase accessibility features, including a low-counter accessible bar, accessible viewing platforms, drinks menus in braille, noise-cancelling headphones, a quiet room, British Sign Language interpreters, performer SUBPACs (a tactile audio platform) and visual interpreting tools.

Stephanie Jacoby, Smirnoff global brand director, said: “At Smirnoff, we fundamentally believe that we’re better when we’re together, which is why these partnerships feel so important and relevant for today.

“By reinforcing social connections and doubling down on our longstanding commitment to diversity and inclusivity, we aim to make it as easy as possible for as many people as possible to come together.”

The campaign also features an advert called ‘Atomic’, which plays on the idea of ‘life is like a cocktail’. Initially launching in the UK, the advert shows a diverse group of people turning into bubbles that mix together.

In 2022, Diageo launched new disability inclusion guidelines, including topics such as physical and digital accessibility, recruitment and guidance on disability-inclusive language.

Last year, trade body UKHospitality called for ‘robust’ guidance to help the on-trade sector ensure their businesses are more inclusive for disabled people.

The Spirits Business also looked into ways that venues can prioritise accessibility.

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