“Inspiration is where we align in our values as a company, Toyota, with the shared values of athletes, Olympians and Paralympians through universal stories.” Fabio Costa, Creative Director, Saatchi & Saatchi
‘Good Odds’, which first aired during the 2018 Super Bowl, set out to tell the universal story of Lauren Woolstencroft who, according to Wikipedia, was “born missing her left arm below the elbow as well as both legs below the knees”. As the ad opens with a mother lifting newborn Lauren, we become aware of the universal story that Toyota and Saatchi & Saatchi will be telling. Text clicks across the screen, reading “Odds of winning a gold medal?”, which tells the viewer that this is the universal story of a single person who overcame the 1 in 997,500 odds of winning, not just one, but 8 Paralympic Olympic gold medals. Universal, indeed.
To belabor the point, the viewer is then serenaded with such lyrics as “I’ve been chasing a road to glory” and “if you knock me down, I’ll get up again” to a montage of Lauren Woolstencroft growing up, with the camera focused on her missing limbs. In one scene, tween Lauren is laying in bed, with her right arm tucked under the covers. Her left arm, though, is placed atop the covers, lest the viewer forget in the split second between scenes (which are focused on her missing limbs) that this is a story about a person who is missing limbs.
Ultimately we know we’ve reached modern day Lauren Woolstencroft when a commentator announces “Up Next, Laura Woolstencroft”. The chyron reads ‘8x Paralympic gold medalist’ as Lauren crosses the finish line and were serenaded with the lyrics “and I’m stronger than I’ve ever been”.
The core message behind “Good Odds” is that “the only disability is a bad attitude”, which is reiterated every time Lauren falls down and then stands back up again. A narrative that focuses on a single person overcoming the obstacle of their body does practical harm to the disability community by erasing the many, very real barriers faced by disabled people; from poverty and unemployment, to architectural inaccessibility, to lack of access to healthcare and assistive devices.
So we ask Toyota, what would happen if you told the nearly 1 in 4 story of disabled people existing rather than telling the story of a single disabled person overcoming 1 in 997,500 odds?