New campaign aims to build understanding around scope and impact of dyslexia

Marketing chief shares how the campaign taps into his personal experience of dyslexia and the campaign's ambitions

A new campaign aimed at raising awareness of the many Australians suffering from dyslexia has proven an emotional project for Auto & General’s CMO, Jonathan Kerr, based on his own personal experiences.

The first above-the-line campaign for the Code Read Dyslexia Network debuts this week, and was created in partnership with Adelaide-based advertising agency, KWP!. The ‘Read my frustration’ campaign will be running across TV and billboards as well as digital and social platforms and is supported by Nine, Seven, Ten, Foxtel, QMS, Google, oOh!Media and JCDecaux.

The campaign is designed to raise awareness of the prevalence of dyslexia in Australia, as well as the ongoing lack of support within classroom and education environments. It is estimated one in 10 Australians have dyslexia, while a 2016 Progress in International Reading Literacy Study found 20 per cent of children are at risk of reading failure.

Code Read Dyslexia Network was established as a not-for-profit in 2017 by a mix of parents, carers, educators and health professionals who have all been impacted by dyslexia. Its vision is to help build an understanding of the learning difficulty and those who suffer from it by not only lifting community awareness but also working with governments and decision makers in the education system and workplace. 

Kerr, who has spent the last 10 years spearheading marketing and digital for Auto & General, parent company of insurance brands such as Budget Direct, became a board member of the NFP in March 2020 and has first-hand experience of the learning difficulty.

“As a dyslexic that battled my way through the system 30 years ago, I was staggered to find out that so little has changed since my school years. So I had to get involved and do something about it,” he said. “Addressing dyslexia properly in Australia will have a profound impact on the lives and prospects of 10 per cent of Australians and in turn, the prospects of Australia as whole.”

At a personal level, Kerr said he was looking to the campaign to help Australians understand what it’s like to be dyslexic and recognise both the size of the problem, as well as the opportunity.

“Early identification is relatively straightforward and early intervention can have a massive impact on our society,” he told CMO. “The greatest irony is that many of the proven ways of helping dyslexics learn to read are very good at helping everyone learn to read, so it's a win/win solution.”

Code Read Dyslexia Network chairperson, Dr Sandra Marshall, called the failure and underachievement of students with dyslexia at school as both a “human right and a public health issue”.

“We know early identification, reading instruction informed by science, and supportive classroom environments would allow all dyslexics to achieve their potential,” she said. “But that’s not happening.”

Early invention is a key step in ensuring the majority of those with dyslexia do learn to read successfully, Dr Marshall said.

“Beyond awareness, Code Read Dyslexia Network’s key campaign goal is to change people’s views of dyslexia and to emphasise that dyslexia is not linked to intelligence, and those that have dyslexia can learn to read. High expectations for all students is critical,” she added.

Kerr also hoped the campaign would raise awareness of the prevalence of dyslexia in Australia and said many were “blown away” to hear so many in the community are dyslexic.

“I want to draw attention to the pain and frustration currently occurring largely due to lack of early identification and intervention, and general lack of support and understanding,” he said.

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, follow our regular updates via CMO Australia's Linkedin company page, or join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia

 

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