Brazil’s Lew’Lara\TBWA has created a hack for the blind that replaces ads with helpful info

Banner ads are often relegated to bottom-of-the-barrel status, but the creatives at São Paulo’s Lew’Lara\TBWA have managed to use the inferior ad format as a force for good in a campaign they recently created for a Brazilian visual impairment nonprofit.

For the 285 million people in the world who are blind or visually impaired, accessing news and information online often means using a screen reader that reads the text aloud to them. However, the reader doesn’t work on banner ads; instead, it simply attempts to read the code behind the ad, which is normally a jumbled mess of letters and numbers.

That’s why the Dorina Nowill Foundation for the Blind tapped Lew’Lara\TBWA to create something that would make the web browsing experience more enjoyable for the visually impaired. The agency came up with ‘The Hacker Spot,’ which is essentially a hack that replaces banner ad code with text that can be read by screen reading software.

The text includes PSA-like messages, news, tips, and legal information that are meant to help the visually impaired. For example, a case study video for the campaign shows a visually impaired man listening to a message that reassures him that guide dogs have the right to access and remain in any place.

According to Lew’Lara\TBWA, the hack, which infiltrated Brazilian portals that collectively have more than 5.8m unique visits per day, “works to help enforce Law number 13,146/2015, which determines that accessibility resources are mandatory in any virtual channel.” The agency worked with ad server company Predicta to bring the hack to life.

"It's rewarding to be able to work with the Dorina Nowill Foundation. The Hacker Spot turned banners into radio spots, and that has made life better for visual impaired people, creating an entirely new way to communicate with these users. In the end, we found a way for radio to hack the internet," said Felipe Luchi, chief creative officer and partner of Lew’Lara\TBWA, in a statement.

Minda Smiley

Minda Smiley is a reporter at The Drum covering creativity and advertising. Based in Philadelphia, she primarily covers independent agencies and B2B marketing. She also oversees The Drum’s “Independent Influence,” a weekly series that spotlights the work, perspectives and inspirations behind independent agencies. During her time at The Drum, she has covered industry events including SXSW, ANA Masters of Marketing, 4A’s Transformation and C2 Montréal. She is a graduate of the City University of New York’s Graduate School of Journalism.

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