How Movimiento Superaçao and Havas made the sidewalks of São Paulo more accessible

Havas Media Group and Z Mais were commended at The Drum Content Awards 2019 in the ‘Best Not for Profit/charity’ category with the ‘Without a Ramp, a Sidewalk is a Wall’ campaign for Movimiento Superaçao. In this case study, the agency reveals the challenges faced and the strategies used to deliver this successful campaign.

The challenge

São Paulo, Brazil, is the largest city in Latin America, with a population of 12.2 million and more than 50,000 streets and avenues. According to legislation, all sidewalks in the city should be accessible. However, the reality is that only 9.2% of sidewalks have access ramps, which is a great limitation for people in wheelchairs.

Our main objective was to raise awareness about the cause of people with disabilities and make society address this important social issue.

The strategy

People with disabilities live in a world of limitations. Without mobility, they don't have access to public health, education, work, leisure, etc. Sidewalks are something we don't usually give much thought to. However, they are critical for urban mobility and can be a huge problem to a key part of society. As it is such an important problem for people with disabilities, we wanted to generate awareness among the rest of the population and bring the conversation into the spotlight.

We needed to raise awareness about the problem a sidewalk without a ramp means for a person in a wheelchair. When a person with a disability encounters a sidewalk that is not accessible, it is as if he were facing a wall. To reflect this idea, we thought about turning those sidewalks that are not adapted to people in wheelchairs into authentic walls.

Considering that Brazil is one of the graffiti capitals of the world, we decided that, if those sidewalks were walls for some people, they also deserved graffiti. Thus, taking those paintings to places where they had never been seen before, we would be able to show the reality of people with disabilities and draw the attention of those who were not aware of the problem. This is how “Without a Ramp, a Sidewalk is a Wall” was born.

The campaign

It was extremely important for this initiative to have a real impact on the life of wheelchair users. Therefore, it was necessary to generate awareness for this activation to reach as many people as possible. To achieve this, we needed a channel that had a high reach among Brazilians, which was appropriate for photo content and was also used for activism. We chose Instagram as it provided everything we needed to spread our message.

First, we invited graffiti artists to paint sidewalk curbs, the walls that only wheelchair users see. Then, we photographed the work and created a gallery on Instagram. We also created a website (www.calcadaemuro.com.br), where we encouraged other artists to take action and paint sidewalk curbs that needed an access ramp. All graffiti works were mapped on Instagram to make it easy for City Hall to locate.

The results

In less than two weeks, with zero media investment, we appeared on every broadcast TV channel in Brazil, including major news and leading programs.

In addition, we received coverage in Brazil's biggest newspapers, made the front page of the largest internet news portal, got replies from the most important urban art and accessibility profiles on Instagram and got the engagement of a congresswoman for the campaign.

Most importantly, four of the more than 40 graffiti done thanks to our campaign have already turned into access ramps for people in wheelchairs.

This project was commended at The Drum Content Awards 2019. Click here to register your interest in next year's awards.

Join us, it's free.

Become a member to get access to:

  • Exclusive Content
  • Daily and specialised newsletters
  • Research and analysis

Join us, it’s free.

Want to read this article and others just like it? All you need to do is become a member of The Drum. Basic membership is quick, free and you will be able to receive daily news updates.