As this week’s Fastline went to press, Fairfax Media, supported by Y&R, DraftFCB, Barnes Catmur and Droga5, were about to announce plans to bring to life the Creative Spirit project, Droga5 Australia’s plan to create work in creative agencies for people with an intellectual disability.
The plan was originally launched at last year’s Caxtons by Droga5 Australia creative chairman David Nobay – and the story was published in Fastline in November (we’ve also resurrected the 2011 launch video.
David Nobay says the seed of the idea began 15 years ago in Melbourne when he saw firsthand that a young staffer with Down’s Syndrome had a profound effect in the workplace. “It always stuck in my mind as such a positive thing,” he told Australian Creative magazine last year.
“With all the ego and craziness in this business, he had such a settling effect on everyone.”
Nobay experienced this levelling effect again when two years ago Droga5 employed a staff member, Lloyd, through Break Thru, an Australian government disability and indigenous employment initiative.
“When the team got to about 20 people we felt it was the right time,” Nobay said. “Lloyd was painfully shy and I thought it would certainly be interesting. We took him on trial and it was incredible how quickly his personality changed.”
Lloyd’s carer observed that the creative space of an advertising agency was a unique and refreshingly relaxed environment. The natural fit has proven to be mutually rewarding and Nobay’s heart and money is where his mouth is.
“We’re just asking people in the creative industry to consider a trial. There is an excellent support structure and financially, as it’s a subsidised programme; it’s a no brainer.”
Over 50 organisations across Australia have since signed up to the programme. Now the ball’s been picked up in NZ by Fairfax Media (with additional funding from the Ministry of Social Development’s Mainstream Employment Programme), who were due to unveil it at a function in Auckland last night.