Apple The Greatest film

Why I Love Apple 'The Greatest' - Laura Jordan Bambach & Sulaiman Khan

President Grey London, Laura JB, and founder of ThisAbility, Sulaiman R. Khan, pen a love letter to Apple 'The Greatest'

By Creative Salon

Apple's 'The Greatest' is pretty damn great. We've said it before. We invited Laura Jordan Bambach, president and chief creative officer at Grey London to write a love letter to the film, who then approached disability activist and her friend Sulaiman R. Khan to write the piece with her. Sulaiman is the founder and chief radical officer of ThisAbility, an organisation that he set up to help brands engage with disabled consumers.

Read what they both have to say about Apple 'The Greatest'.

Laura Jordan Bambach, president and chief creative officer at Grey London

When we initially had the idea, around the Salon Supper dinner table, for writing articles where creative leaders celebrate each other’s work I hadn’t expected it would happen so quickly. But here I am watching what I regard as an incredible piece of work from Apple and the wonderful Alice Tonge and one that I’m delighted to dig into further.

But before I go any farther, I wanted to call out that we have a simple principle at Grey that comes from the Disability community– “nothing about us without us” and so I reached out to my dear friend Sulaiman Khan, founder of Disability culture integration consultancy ThisAbility to co-author this piece with me. It’s important that it comes with the perspective and voice of the people it serves and represents. I’ll get my feelings down here but I recommend for a much more exceptional read, jumping down to Sulaiman’s piece. It’s heartening to see that we both had the same response to the work and the same questions around it, more or less. But for what this work means to the people that really matter, keep scrolling.

Disability is the aspect of our intersectional creative industry landscape that I feel is most poorly understood and represented. Partly because disability can sometimes be hidden. Definitions can be unclear. Conversations can feel uncomfortable. And for those for whom the conventional ways of working just don’t work it can be impossible to even join in. It’s hard to rise up the ranks in a workplace when you can’t even get through the front door.

So it’s great to see such a piece being made. Different types of disability, and different cultures and passions. Care has been taken to be representative of black and brown disabled creators. It’s beautifully, sensitively shot (we’d expect nothing less from Kim and Alice) and really draws us into the worlds of these amazing folk. It’s aspirational and oozing cool. I want to be these people. This, I think, is the real triumph.

I always ask, when a piece like this is made, does the business live up to it? There’s no use in showing solidarity if what you’re selling doesn’t. The show of features and the phone’s inclusive design means the product lives up to the advertising. Their supply chain may be another issue.

I also always ask if there was representation in the team that created the work. Was there Disability in the team that created it? Or the crew that filmed it? Was it in collaboration with a third party? All these things may seem minor, but they matter a great deal both to the authenticity of the stories and to the communities who are being represented. I don’t know the answer, but would love to hear it.

I would have loved for this to have been made outside of International Day of Persons With Disabilities and I truly hope that Apple don’t lose what makes this great – real people full of effortless cool. We hope Alice and her incredible team keep going further.

Sulaiman R. Khan, founder and chief radical officer of ThisAbility

The world is changing. Disability is gaining greater prominence in society, and though more work is still needed, society is starting to be aware of what championing and supporting Disabled people looks like. In a world that treats Disability and Disabled people as commodities and as something that should not be welcomed, Disabled people no longer put up with the accepted narratives and refuse to beg for scraps anymore. So, it was refreshing to see the new short film for Apple, “The Greatest.”

As a wholeheartedly Disabled AF, British-Pakistani man, creative, active (non-optical) intersectional accomplice-in-progress, socially conscious entrepreneur, continual work-in progress: Seeing this piece of creative work really made me excited the first time I watched it, and I watched it 5 times since then. The infinite and radical badassery, sexiness, wit, wisdom, richness, compassion, joy, love, and creativity that Disabled people we saw in this film are something we (Disabled people) have always had, and this needs to be celebrated and seen more in society. For the first time, in this piece of creative work, I saw Disabled people not being commoditised or pitted but instead as whole and complete people existing in everyday life. Though I’m super curious to know if Disabled people were involved in the ideation, creative, and production/delivery states of this new work by Apple?

When it comes to Disability and Disabled people, in general, the narratives by the advertising industry and organisations, the only way that seems to get Disability in a story is to be a part of the “overcoming Disability” and “Disability Paradox”, which is so harmful and dangerous for society and Disabled people. It’s about the idea that we, as Disabled people, must overcome our Disability and have a “high quality of life against all odds” – Despite Disability. This is often internalised, so we end up not feeling like we can exist wholeheartedly as Disabled people, and we have to make ourselves palatable for an ableist world.

This is particularly the case regarding media representation of Disability in the media. According to the Creative Diversity Network’s 2021 Interim Report on Doubling Disability, “...20 per cent of the global population have a Disability, a mere 8.2 per cent was represented in the broadcasting industry with 5.4 per cent working on screen and just 3.6 per cent within senior TV executive roles.” We must recognise that not only is it critical to engage with Disabled people and our stories but also to create opportunities and solutions “with” us and not “for” us because we must recognise that Disability is a human lived experience that we can no longer ignore. The media needs to represent this.

An excellent resource for organisations trying to create work that represents Disabled people better is Critical Axis, “a project from The Disabled List that collects and analyses disability representation in media.”

And this new Apple work is so well received because it was authentic, disparate, and lived-experience/story-led – and not created within the advertising industry.

After graduating in 2012 with BA (honours) in Advertising and Brand Communication, I couldn’t secure a job for over three years despite applying extensively and working just as hard as anybody else. This is mainly down tothe ableism and inaccessibility of the advertising industry. When I finally secured my first job in 2015, I had to wait six months before I could start to get Access To Work in place, and I had to leave that first job at a communication agency due to ableism, inaccessibility and toxicity only after 8 months. This is one reason I set up my own business in October 2016. On the whole, nothing has changed with the advertising industry, and I still wouldn’t feel comfortable personally working within it. A lot of the work that comes out of the industry around Disability is often bland and one-dimensional.

This is why the film by Apple was so progressive as it not only featured Disabled people, it featured a wide variety of disabilities and diverse communities within our community without whitewashing Disability - yes, racism and even ableism exist in the Disability community. The intersectionality within the creative work was fantastic.

Overall, this work stands out to me for its fresh take on integrating Disability and Disabled people in a way that felt human. Disabled people (particularly Disabled BIPOC) not only lead global culture, but we also create it. So maybe we need to have the courage to think about Disability representation outside of the advertising industry to ensure that we are not only in the media but creating the media as well.

And as I say, “Radical answers require radical questioning. So, how can we daringly integrate Disability into our businesses and society?”

Also, huge congrats to Alice Tonge and the Apple team for making me feel seen in a world that erases Disability and my lived experience as a Disabled. More of this, please!

Not only is this film joyfully great, but Disabled people are, have always been, and we will always be greater than the greatest.


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