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A monthly roundup of emerging trends, events and innovation happening in and outside
the Ad Council.
We don't care much for Valentine's day, but will take this opportunity to talk about inclusion. In this edition of SplashForward, we'll share how people are unlearning biases and designing more inclusive products and experiences.
Unlearning the Able Body

Sesame Street was the first theme park in the world to be a Certified Autism Center. At least 80% of the Sesame Place staff went through a specialized training- covering everything from communication, motor skills to sensory and emotional awareness. In January, Seaworld (owner of Sesame Street) made Aquatica Orlando, the first water park to also be a Certified Autism Center. At both of these locations, SeaWorld created a Ride Accessibility Program, quiet rooms and low-sensory areas. Zoo Miami, Santa Barbara Zoo and Elmwood Zoo provide special needs guests with noise cancelling headphones, fidget toys & stress balls. Check out AutismTravel for the 14 (surprised that there are only 14) certified locations.
Live Transcribe
Google released two new accessibility features for certain models of their Android devices to help people that are deaf or hard of hearing–Live Transcribe (built-in app) and Sound Amplifier. Live Transcribe will type out what it hears in large easy-to-read text, without saving the transcript in the app or servers to maintain people’s privacy. What's even more impressive is the subtle tactile cues the app can give users, letting them know when the ambient noise level is too high, and they should get closer to the person it’s transcribing. Sound Amplifier, works with wired headphones to let you adjust sound settings depending on your environment. Apple has a similar feature that works with any wireless headphones and hearing aids.

Similarly, Microsoft is doubling down on accessibility and inclusive design this year, starting with their Xbox Adaptive Controller made for gamers with motor limitation. And there’s more: Project Torino teaches blind children to code, Immersive Reader helps people with dyslexia read, Project Fissyo helps children endure uncomfortable cystic fibrosis procedures through an engaging game and an autism hiring program tailors the interview process to provide equal opportunity to people with autism.
Cooper Hewitt, Microsoft
Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design museum hosted an Access+Ability exhibition at Davos that featured 20 curated products and services that were designed by and for people with disabilities. Among the lineup were: a rough terrain wheelchair that can be used on the muddy and sandy grounds of the developing world, a watch that uses haptic (vibration) technology to let users with tremors regain use of their hand, a bedazzled hearing aid and a shirt that allows people with deafness to feel music.
Unlearning Bias

Black History month this year has been tough. Adidas released an all white sneaker calling it a “celebration of black culture.” Gucci somehow made a blackface sweater and missed it. Katy Perry made blackface shoes “unintentionally”. Esquire chose the worst time to release a feature on growing up “white, middle class and male”. Ughhhhh (not saying it’s not worth reading his perspective, just poor timing). In an effort to add some hope here- we are respecting that Spotify understands that Black history is happening now and it doesn’t need to be celebrated only for one month. Have you seen “Kevin Hart’s Guide to Black History” on Netflix? Thoughts?

MIT researcher, Joy Buolamwini presented at Davos on how incorrect facial recognition can be when it comes to identifying dark-skinned faces, especially female faces. She founded the Algorithmic Justice League and the safe face pledge initiative which compels organizations to eliminate bias in facial recognition systems and tech. Let’s keep an eye on who signs and how they stand by their commitment to eliminate bias in AI.

At this point, I can't think of an award show that hasn't shown their bias. The Grammy's had a lot of damage to undo from their previous years and they took a small, but noticeable step forward this month. Michelle Obama and Alicia Keys kicked off a more inclusive Grammys broadcast where 14 out of 18 performances were led by women and none of the "big four" awards went to white cis men. Artists like Kendrick Lamar, Drake and Childish Gambino all declined to perform. CES 2019 also tried to undo their gender bias from previous years, but they also have some work to do.
Joy Buolamwini, MIT Researcher
Unlearning Gender

Gender neutral experiences are picking up steam, and everyone is getting involved.
New Jersey is
officially the fourth state to allow gender neutral birth certificates. Nonbinary educators (those who identify as neither exclusively male nor female) are embracing the "Mx." honorific (pronounced mix) to maintain their gender identity, getting more support from their students than their colleagues. Get educated on gender neutral pronouns here.
Gender Neutral products
The Phluid Project is a gender neutral retail experience in NYC that provides an inclusive shopping experience for gender non-conforming customers. The CEO (self identified as "cis gay man") staffed the store with a mostly queer and gender non-conforming team and created an inclusive code of conduct with the help of a Diversity & Inclusion trainer. Baekhyun, a Korean pop artist launched PrivĂ©, a unisex clothing line that’s redefining streetwear with their new gender fluid items. Similarly, Evan Ross and Ashlee Simpson-Ross created Jagger Snow, a unisex capsule collection.

Gender neutral personal care brands like Panacea, Peet Rivko and Non Gender Specific are creating all natural beauty products that simplifies skin care for all. More brands include Jecca, ASOS Face & Body, Fluide Beauty, Illamasqua and Fenty Beauty.

Here’s a Vice piece on what it’s like to be raised gender neutral - for the parents and the kids.
Out of home is definitely going through a renaissance, and the Ad Council has been all over it. The media team has been experimenting with different types of digital OOH: full motion, 15-second video clips prominently displayed near LAX, TV spots running at 1,800 Target stores, Smokey lighting up Sunset Blvd using LED day-night technology and even potential ads on electric charging stations. In our always-on-the-move society, the Ad Council is striving to be wherever they go and hoping to learn from testing these OOH methods. If you missed the OOH presentation Nicole H. organized, check out the deck (T:\Resource Library\Trainings and Splashtalks\OOH).
In February, we launched our first PSA using video game footage from Kingdom Hearts 3 for our bullying prevention campaign Because of You. Our assumption was that we could apply the movie studio model that has been so successful for many of our campaigns to video games with highly recognizable IP. So far the response has been overwhelmingly positive -- unlike movie PSAs that may reach a more general audience of parents, we are reaching a hugely passionate community of fans who love this game and are thrilled to see their favorite game used in positive campaign. You can check out our press release and the PSA.
Happenings at the Ad Council:

Splashtalk: Best of CES 2019 (2/19). Thanks for joining, recap & video will be sent out.

Modular Splashbox training: Ideation (3/27 @ 11AM EST). This is a short, practical mini session that zooms into ideation -  how to plan, design & facilitate an ideation, different ideation methods and what to do after the session. If you can’t attend but want this to be offered again, please let Ariba know.

Trends & Coffee: 2/27 @ 11:30 AM EST. We’ll chat about some trends that are catching our eye.

(in the process of being scheduled): Edelman’s Trust Barometer, What's your Failosophy?
Stumbled upon.


Feb 20 | The Art of Data Journalism w/ NYT & FT
May 3-5 |
Abilities Expo


Jul 29-31 | An Event Apart Design/UX Conference
Feb 13 |
Prototyping Workshop


Apr 3 | Accelerate For Good Global 2019

Apr 14 | Design in the name of love
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Thanks for SplashForwarding with us!

Ariba, Shirley & Naomi


The Innovation Squad

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