A new social media campaign aims to combat the use of the word ‘retard’ due to its offensive nature to those with intellectual and physical disabilities as well as their families, friends and carers.
The campaign from Marketforce created for not-for-profit client Avivo, aims to raise awareness and educate people about the impact of the word ‘retard’ by calling out those who use it online.
The word appears on Twitter every five seconds, which equates to its use 12 times a minute, 744 times an hour and 125,000 times a week.
Due to its frequent presence on this platform, the campaign centres around a Twitter bot that detects any English language use of the word ‘retard’ or ‘retarded’.
The bot then automatically replies with a video message to the user, spoken directly from someone affected by the ‘r’ word.
The 12 campaign ambassadors, aged from six to 80, make up these video messages and represent people with lived experience of disability, including family and carers.
Recipients of the video messages are directed to the campaign website where they can learn more about what the word means to others and get to know the person behind their video message.
Marketforce’s digital team also had to create an algorithm within the bot to contend with Twitter’s daily tweet limits, ensuring that it complied with the platform’s user requirements.
After a successful three-week trial, Western Australia’s Disability Services Minister, Stephen Dawson, launched the campaign at the end of February. So far, the site has captured visitors from over 30 countries.
Marketforce chairman and acting CEO Jim Gall said the agency admires and respect the work that Avivo does in the community.
“As a result, we really wanted to contribute to the work they do,” he said.
“By highlighting the negative impacts around the ‘r’ word, we’re hopeful we can help people reconsider the language they use, and move one step closer to a more considerate and inclusive society.”
Avivo CEO Rosie Lawn said Marketforce really understood the organisation’s motivations and drivers behind the campaign.
“The campaign is not about promoting Avivo, it’s about influencing community awareness and respect,” she said.
“The campaign supports people who have direct experience with the impact of the ‘r’ word to say how they feel.”