Every year, BC’s Office of the Human Rights Commissioner (BCOHRC) invites British Columbians to interrogate their assumptions about one of the characteristics protected under B.C.’s Human Rights Code. This multi-channel, awareness-raising campaign runs across the province and is meant to further the public’s understanding of systemic discrimination.

In 2022, the campaign focused on ableism, or the structural barriers that impact people with a range of visible and invisible disabilities. The Commissioner’s Office retained Spur to develop an innovative, captivating and thought-provoking campaign that would shed light on how everyday systems create barriers for people with disabilities.

a large digital billboard hangs in a transit station

key opportunities

This project was exciting for our team, since its challenges were rooted in our client’s inspiring commitment to live their values and to reflect best practices in the field of social impact marketing. We loved solving for each of them.

transcend tropes

Many campaigns about disability do not reflect the progressive and nuanced positions championed by people living with disabilities and their advocates. We were called to resist any shame-based, simplistic messaging or other unhelpful tropes used in other disability campaigns.

stay systemic

The Commissioner has an unwavering commitment to understand human rights issues from a systemic lens. We had to resist the temptation to reduce ableism to interpersonal examples, and instead find a way to keep the campaign—and the conversation it sparked—deeply rooted in a structural perspective.

capitalize on COVID?

The COVID-19 pandemic catalyzed more accessible norms—such as remote working, special shopping hours or curbside pick-up options—which can be helpful for people living with disabilities. At the same time, it revealed life-altering discriminatory practices, especially in healthcare. We had to consider whether to broach the pandemic in the campaign and how this would be received by diverse audiences.

don’t break the bank

This campaign had bold ambitions, including mandatory province-wide campaign visibility, but a modest budget. Our team had to maximize our advertising budget across a range of channels, finding efficiencies and creative solutions every step of the way.

our approach

Our team took a deeply reflective and curious approach to this work.  Ultimately we developed the Rewrite the Rules campaign.

Everywhere they go, people with disabilities are bombarded with unwritten rules; experiences that reinforce how the world wasn’t designed with their needs in mind. We demonstrated that individual accommodations are important, but they aren’t the solution entirely. The campaign argued we must rewrite the unwritten rules of our shared settings and spaces, so people with disabilities are truly included—no special treatment required.

Here’s how we got there, in partnership with Design de Plume (graphic design) and Outcrop Communications (media buying).


engaging the experts

Like us, the Commissioner’s Office believes strongly in “nothing about us, without us.” So they convened a Community Review Committee of leaders from the BC disability community, which we included in our process. We led the preliminary engagement session, posing questions that would centre committee members’ lived experiences and expertise in our work. We also built in plenty of time for them to review strategy drafts and materials along the way. By the time the campaign launched, they were close and supportive allies.

walking the walk

Because this campaign aimed to expose and challenge ableism, it was critical that we avoid ableist approaches to the work itself. Throughout the project, our team focused on continuous learning, relearning and unlearning about disability and accessibility. When our language wasn’t inclusive, we adopted a new standard. We asked about needs prior to meetings to make our working environment as accessible as possible. Similarly, we gave even greater thought to the accessibility of our final materials, aiming to ensure our campaign could reach diverse audiences, whether disabled or not. We even ran social media ads in 12 languages.

thinking big

We developed a campaign that worked as a complementary series of instalments, highlighting various sectors where ableism is most common and problematic. By developing ads about four different sectors (health care, education, workplaces and the retail environment), we told a more nuanced and complex story that also created novelty for audiences who would see coordinated ads at different times, in different places.

diverse channels

After identifying our primary audiences as people working in the Lower Mainland, Millennials and Gen Z allies, and rural & northern BC communities (including Indigenous folks), our ad plan outlined precisely the best and most cost-effective ways to reach them. We executed out-of-home tactics (from bus shelters in rural communities to high-traffic transit stations in the city); digital ads (including responsive HTML ads, site-specific placements and social), and even postering (both in urban centres and in local community hubs, like libraries).

metrics that matter

We’re proud of the impact we made. Here are just a few highlights.


social ad CTR (%)


engagement rate (%)


ad variations


community events

the results

Ultimately, this campaign was a win-win-win. Both the Commissioner’s Office and the Community Review Committee reported a sense of deep satisfaction in the  process, deliverables and outcomes. Our team learned a great deal about accessibility and ableism, improving our work as consultants and allies. But most importantly, response to the campaign —both online and in-person—demonstrated we had successfully achieved our objectives of raising awareness about ableism, sparking a dialogue about it, and inspiring self-reflection and action.

In the words of Karen Mason, Executive Director of the Third Space Society: “It was a privilege to [help] brainstorm, develop, and execute this public awareness campaign on the important, but too-often forgotten, issue of ableism. I hope this campaign sparks conversation, and action, both in our community and across B.C.” The data tell us it did.

a woman holding a cell phone in her hands