The advertisement is a spin-off of the famous Wonderbra ads featuring Eva Herzigova that ran in the 1990s. This advertisement, however, reads, "Look me in the eyes...I said in the eyes" along with a photo of 35 year old model Kiewitz showing off her handless arm. The sponsoring non-profit organization, CAP 48, raises money each year to address disability issues in Belgium and France.
The ad was a hit. CAP 48 was able to raise over 4 million Euros during their annual telethon after the image was printed, which is a 10% increase in fundraising. The image ran in Belgian newspapers, and they were even printed on postcards that were then placed in various restaurants in Brussels. With the extra funds, the nonprofit organization can continue to promote disability awareness and support disability issues in the French-speaking areas of Belgium. Johan Stockmann, the communications officer for the nonprofit organization, adds, "The idea was to try to change the way so-called normal people view the handicapped...They look at the handicap, not at the person. We want to change that."
Although the general public embraced the message immediately after the ad campaign was launched in late September of this year, an advertising watchdog group filed a complaint with the Jury of Advertising Ethics due to the "questionable" nature of the photograph. The panel rejected the complaint, citing that the image only helped support the message of encouragement for those with disabilities. This is exactly the mission of CAP 48. The nonprofit organization mostly utilizes the national Belgian broadcaster, otherwise known as RTBF, to raise awareness about disabilities, clear up misconceptions, and change negative attitudes in society. CAP 48 does annual media campaigns, using social media and print ads to further their goals.
Kiewitz, a CAP 48 graphic designer by trade, claims to have been bombarded with paparazzi and now has interviews and television appearances lined up. She told the Global Post, "There's been a huge reaction. I've been besieged on Facebook. Mostly the reactions have been great, really positive feedback. I've got journalists from around the world calling; it's been a bit crazy." When the Global Post asked if she was nervous about posing for the campaign, she responded "I had no hesitation about doing it, but I was a bit nervous about appearing like that in front of the photographer. I'm not a prude, but my arm has always been something very intimate for me. My friends gave me a lot of support and after a couple of glasses of wine it all went fine."
An unanticipated effect of the campaign was its international success. Kiewitz and CAP 48 have received press from all over the world, but especially throughout Europe. International talk shows are interested in doing interviews; she is the voice for people with disabilities everywhere. Although her disability is obvious, others can relate to her story. The ad campaign shows the world that people with disabilities are still beautiful people. Often, the public may perceive them as somewhat broken or incomplete. Yet CAP 48 wants to prove that not only are people like Kiewitz beautiful, they are more than a disability. Just like feminists campaign against men objectifying them by staring at their chests, disabled persons share a similar experience. Congratulations to CAP 48 on their successful campaign, and many thanks to Kiewitz for having the courage to raise awareness for this worthy cause.
This article was written by Hope Nardini and supported by the Facebook chat software Chit Chat - www.chitchat.org.uk