Christmas ad accessibility – It isn’t too late

Christmas advert campaigns have changed and adapted as the way people consume media has changed. Adverts are no longer reserved just for the television but are used as part of a larger marketing plan including websites and social media as well as television. Yet whilst the adverts are moving with technology the marketers aren’t keeping up with accessibility in the same way IT professionals are – and that could be the fault of accessibility experts.

Last year we did an advent count down to Christmas reviewing the Christmas adverts that were on television, social media and business websites. The kids are back at school so it wont be long until the 2018 Christmas adverts start showing, but will anything have changed?

Target audience – calling all Equality Managers, IT, Website Managers and Marketers

screenshot of Moz the monster bedtime story being read with closed captions and subtitlesWe want our message to get out to equality managers and those in IT – from developers to testers and those in marketing – that any campaign to raise brand awareness and selling starts with an idea. As that idea grows we need to be talking to the right people to ensure that idea reaches every person regardless of disability – and in the case of the adverts we reviewed for accessibility none of the adverts appear to have been produced with any real thought about accessibility.

So what can you learn from Christmas 2017?

Captions and transcripts

Nearly every advert was missing proper captions and transcripts, and at best relied on YouTube’s automatic captioning. This caused multiple and sometimes humorous errors but mostly it prevented those who are deaf from following the captions and understanding what was going on. This also prevented people who prefer to read a transcript of a video due to poor WiFi or those in a public space.

Audio described versions

All the adverts could have benefited from an audio described version. John Lewis deserves an honourable mention for its bedtime story version of their advert, which served well as an audio book and a sort of audio description.

Accessible video player

The good news is every advert used YouTube to host the video, which means that the video player was reasonably accessible; we highly recommend companies continue to do this.

Santa, telly addict

We would guess that most of these adverts are the work for marketing teams and not the remit of web/digital teams. By the time it reaches the teams that publish the videos online, it’s probably too late for accessibility so I am asking you now, in September to share this article with anyone who may have a say in your Christmas campaign – review every place you plan on showcasing your Christmas advert and think, how do I make sure everyone gets to experience the magic, the story, the message we’ve worked so hard to produce.