Channel 4 to broadcast ad break through the eyes of those with sight loss

Channel 4 has partnered with the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) and five advertisers to give viewers a glimpse of what it looks like to watch TV when suffering from sight loss.

It forms part of the broadcaster's drive to embrace accessibility - and encourage advertisers to follow suit.

Having signed up O2, Paco Rabanne (PUIG UK), Amazon Echo, Freeview and Specsavers to take part in the campaign, viewers will for the first time be able to ‘see’ an entire ad break through the eyes of two million people living with sight loss conditions in the UK today.

Different visual filters will be applied across ads for the five brands to illustrate the five most common eye conditions in the UK; macular degeneration (affects the central part of a person’s vision), cataracts (cause sight to become cloudy or misty), eye conditions caused by diabetes (which can affect the blood vessels at the back of the eyes), hemianopia (a person loses half of their vision) and glaucoma (a condition that damages the optic nerve).

The campaign, which airs tonight (18 September) during The Undateables ad break on Channel 4, coincides with National Eye Health week as it looks to raise awareness of the importance of eye care.

What’s more, the campaign will be repeated in the second air break of the show with the addition of audio description for viewers with a visual impairment.

As a public broadcaster, Channel 4 has a remit to both champion diversity across the UK and be innovative and risk-taking in its creative. This was manifested most extensively in the broadcaster’s ‘most accessible ad break ever’ for the Rio Paralympics, fully signed by deaf artist and actor David Ellington in 2016.

Jonathan Allan, Channel 4 sales director, said he hopes the campaign with RNIB "continues Channel 4’s legacy of delivering original, creative campaigns that focus on accessibility".

"From Superhumans Wanted winner Maltesers to last year’s fully signed ad break, and the launch of our diversity in advertising award we want to inspire advertisers to develop creative with their entire audience in mind," he said.

The idea for the campaign was developed through 4Sales’ creative arm PL4Y and produced by Channel 4’s in-house creative agency 4Creative. The special ad breaks were produced with the support of RNIB and Eye Health UK (organisers of National Eye Health week).

The ad breaks were led by 4Sales’ David Amodio, digital & creative leader; Charlotte Rowland, creative strategist and Michelle Pierre, group special projects manager. The team at Channel 4 worked with agency partners Havas Group (O2 & Paco Rabanne), Initiative (Amazon), MEC (Freeview) and Manning Gottlieb OMD (Specsavers). Each brand has donated 10% of their production fee to the RNIB in support of National Eye Health Week.

Sophie Castell, director at RNIB, said: “This unique opportunity to work with Channel 4 and some really great advertisers will help show viewers different sight loss conditions and what living with sight loss can be like. The use of audio description across an entire ad break marks a cultural shift in advertising. We are really proud to be part of this exciting and rewarding initiative with Channel 4 and the advertisers.”

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