CAMPAIGNS: Film Launch - DRC talks its way into film mainstream

Client: Disability Rights Commission

PR Team: PR21

Campaign: Launch of Talk

Timescale: September 2000 - February 2001

Budget: Undisclosed

The Disability Rights Commission (DRC) is an independent umbrella body

set up by the Government in April 2000 to eliminate discrimination and

to secure equal opportunities.

PR21 was appointed last summer to promote the DRC and to encourage

businesses and public organisations to go beyond the statutory

requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act.


To raise awareness of discrimination against the disabled and to

position the DRC with key opinion-formers and to entice co-operation

from business.

This led to the upgrading of a promotional video to the making of a

short film (ten minutes), called Talk, which was part of the wider DRC

campaign called 'Actions Speak Louder Than Words'. This would fully

launch the DRC to a wide audience.

Strategy and Plan

Using Furner Communications as a communications intermediary with the

DRC, PR21 drove the strategic direction of the campaign and organised

the logistics (e.g. media relations) for Talk's debuts in London,

Edinburgh and Cardiff.

Seeking to avoid the often prosaic approach to similar 'charity'

releases, all parties worked alongside a film production company, Winkle

Films, to ensure that Talk was both visually striking and to add a

humorous edge.

It was (successfully) anticipated that this approach would take the

DRC's campaign from social policy pages into 'mainstream' coverage.

The DRC, PR21 and Winkle Films developed the script and chose to cast

Jonathan Kerrigan, from the BBC's Casualty, into Talk's lead role.

The making of the film - which portrayed a society where able-bodied

people are a pitied minority and disabled people live full and active

lives - provided the basis of advance media coverage.

Talk was shown to film critics, as well as social policy journalists, at

Channel 4's in-house cinema. The premiere for business leaders and

government figures was hosted in December at Lancaster House by Prime

Minister Tony Blair.

Education secretary David Blunkett, London mayor Ken Livingstone and

many business leaders also attended.

After the London debut, PR21 sought to maintain media interest in the

campaign, adding different 'spins' for the media and opinion-formers in

Scotland and Wales. The latter events were attended by each country's

first ministers.

Measurement and Evaluation

Pre-launch coverage featured in the TV Times, Time Out, London Tonight

and on a business news bulletin Radio 5 Live. GMTV ran clips of Talk, an

interview with Kerrigan and linked its website to that of the DRC. The

number of website hits rose significantly.

Thirty major businesses and other organisations have expressed a desire

to use Talk and associated material to enhance their disability



The relatively novel route down which PR21 took the DRC's first major

promotional initiative - primarily the short film concept - was key to

this successful campaign. It brought disability issues out of social

policy media and into the realm of business journalists.

Talk has therefore had an extended 'shelf-life', with a screening on

Channel 4 last Tuesday night and a deal secured whereby the British Film

Institute will promote the film - and thus disability issues - in

independent cinemas.

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