End the Awkward was our first major awareness campaign in many years. We wanted to challenge the awkwardness that two-thirds of people say they feel around disabled people.
It’s been a huge success so far.
Why is this campaign important?
We’ve done research into public attitudes over the last year and found the public tends not to engage with disability issues, and disabled people, because of fear of saying or doing the wrong thing.
Younger people are twice as likely to struggle with this. That’s why we chose to focus on people aged 25-30 who aren’t disabled. Instead of shaming them for ‘doing the wrong thing’, we wanted to say, just relax. If you try to see the person, not just their impairment, you can’t go far wrong.
We realised many people wanted advice that would make them feel more comfortable when talking to a disabled person. Disabled People’s Organisations helped us prepare tips on ending the awkward, covering everyday situations from sport to sex.
Time to launch. What was the response?
In the run-up we tested the campaign with lots of young people and disabled people, but it was still a nail-biting moment as we launched the campaign. How would End the Awkward go down? Would disabled people think it hit the right note? Would people who aren’t disabled find it helpful? Would anyone even care?!
Then End the Awkward launched, and we knew we’d hit on something good, something that resonated with people.
Great comments came tumbling in on Twitter, Facebook and email. Scope’s phones rang off the hook – well, quite a bit.
Here’s a small slice of what people said.
The campaign even went worldwide. We heard from people as far away as Nova Scotia, Singapore and Australia, and saw it tweeted in at least seven languages.
Here are some of the emails we received.
“I think your End the Awkward videos are simply brilliant. It made me laugh and well up at the same time, and just rang very true.”
“I applaud your current TV campaign to help non-disabled people overcome embarrassment and interact with people with disabilities.”
“Good choice of people and subjects, making the points very well. As disability is such a touchy subject for so many people, very pleased that Scope are grasping the nettle proactively.”
“About time a direct approach was taken to inform people about disability. I was that awkward person until my early 20s!”
“What a good idea this is. I think the majority of the time people really want to say or do the right thing but don’t always know what that is so end up avoiding the situation and thereby exclude the person with a disability.”
“I absolutely love your #EndTheAwkward campaign! It’s just what’s needed at the moment!”
Every major news source in the UK, as well as many in other countries, discussed the campaign. Highlights include:
- Sky News showed the ads alongside discussion and interviews
- A disabled comedian’s article on awkwardness on BBC Ouch was read by 800,000 people in one day
- As well as featuring End the Awkward, the Metro drew attention to the findings of our report on attitudes to disabled people.
But End the Awkward has not been without controversy. Opposing views included:
- Some people felt we were saying there was a right and wrong way to interact with a disabled person.
- Some people found the ads patronising.
- Some felt we were addressing a non-existent problem.
It was great to kickstart conversations and it was really good to get the feedback, even where there was a difference of opinion. Several people wrote in with suggested additions or tweaks to our tips content, some of which led to us making improvements.
End the Awkward in numbers
We wanted to spread the word far and wide, to help change attitudes for the better. The signs are it’s working: over 1.5 million people have seen the campaign so far.
- End the Awkward films have been watched more than 1.3 million times
- Over 160,000 people have read our tips for ending the awkward
- More than 65,000 people have taken the quiz to find out how awkward they are
- Close to 100 stories have appeared in the media, including national, regional and international television, radio, websites and newspapers.
Just the beginning
At times it’s easy to think that our vision of changing society is too big a challenge. Is it really realistic? But what End the Awkward has shown us is that attitudes towards disabled people can change, using a fun, and positive approach.
Thank you to everyone who took the time to take part in the campaign and spread the message. This is just the beginning. Add your name in support of End the Awkward and be the first to hear what happens next.