Kmart is the latest Australian retailer to win praise from shoppers for promoting diversity in its advertising, after featuring children with disabilities in its Easter catalogue.
In December last year, Target won support on Facebook for a catalogue that featured women of all different sizes and ages modelling the retailer’s swimwear, while clothing brand Blue Illusion embraced age diversity last month when it chose 94-year-old American style icon Iris Apfel as the face of its “ageless” autumn/winter advertising campaign.
Kmart’s Easter catalogue features several children with disabilities enjoying Easter treats, including 11-year-old Cooper Smith, who has Cerebral Palsy, and a young boy with Down Syndrome.
This is the first time Kmart Australia has included children with disabilities in its catalogues and according to BandT, the move was prompted by Starting with Julius, an organisation that promotes the inclusion of people with disability, which contacted Kmart chief executive Guy Russo last year.
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The catalogue has been met with a warm response online, with individuals using Twitter to voice their support.
— Sophia Lazarides (@sophialazarides) March 22, 2016
Love the diversity and representations in this Kmart catalogue spread pic.twitter.com/CvQsHBxzEj
— Julie + bb (@Happyhappyhaps) March 21, 2016
A spokesperson for Kmart told SmartCompany this morning the retailer wants to “reflect every person who walks into our stores – whether they are a team member, a customers, a contractor or supplier”.
“Inclusion is important to us at Kmart no matter a person’s race, gender, ethnicity, age, ability, appearance or attitude and we are focused on continuing to improve on this commitment,” the spokesperson said.
“This is not a new focus for Kmart Australia, but an extension of our broader and very important focus on improving diversity within our business.”
Diversity “makes good business sense”
Dr Lauren Rosewarne, an advertising expert and senior lecturer at the University of Melbourne, told SmartCompany for a brand like Kmart that targets a broad demographic of people, “using models that reflect the spectrum of their demographic makes good business sense”.
“Seeing models who look different to the cookie cutter inclusions usually found in advertising is an important – and even delightful – step,” Rosewarne says.
“Advertising has an important role to play in helping culture change and to expand our definition of what constitutes beautiful.
“By utilising a broad selection of models in campaigns, advertisers help to teach that beauty is diverse.”