Reminding Us That We All Have the Right to Soar
Traveling with a disability presents unique challenges, including custom wheelchairs breaking, untrained airport staff, inaccessible plane restrooms, and malfunctioning or missing onboard wheelchairs. Reform is necessary to increase training for airport and airline staff, ensure wheelchairs are available on board, allow for proper legal action as necessary, and encourage airplane architecture built for an inclusive future.
The Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) was determined to advocate for legislative progress to make a significant difference for those flying with disabilities. While there are multiple vehicles for reform, FAA Reauthorization in 2023 presented an immediate opportunity to drive change for those with disabilities.
Strategic Elements (SE) partnered with MDA in late Spring of 2023 to execute an advertising and video campaign; the campaign started with MDA’s Hill Day to meet with representatives on Capitol Hill and extended through September during MDA’s Muscular Dystrophy Awareness Month campaign for a comprehensive storytelling and advocacy effort, using powerful assets collected on MDA’s Hill Day.
- Advocate for accessible air travel
- Highlight the need for reform through impactful storytelling
- Generate Action Center submissions for key inclusions in FAA Reauthorization Legislation for increased airport and airline training, standards, and accessibility for people living with disabilities including wheelchair users
- Complement Hill Day activities that advocated for reform with targeted legislators
Our strategy hinged on the premise that sharing an advocate’s story through video boasts incredible power – and paired with ads, we could reach likely supporters at scale to generate expedited views and subsequent actions. This assumption proved true, with viral organic MDA social media success, generated earned media, and bolstered ad results that have led to real change and progress for accessible air travel. Our thoughtful approach ensured a connection before, during, and after MDA’s Hill Day for real and sustained support for reform in 2023.
We captured first-hand video accounts of two MDA advocates – Madison Lawson and Mindy Henderson (who is also an MDA staff member) – traveling to MDA’s Hill Day, which maximized the Hill Day investment and created evergreen content to be repurposed throughout the campaign. Further, our combination of cross-channel ads helped to increase reach, impact, and legislative and corporate influence.
Created a complementary virtual MDA Hill Day to drive buzz, awareness and support for and alongside the in-person MDA Hill Day in Washington D.C. through a Facebook event.
- The event page and event page ads ensured all existing Facebook followers and likely allies were engaged online around the issue of accessible air travel for increased awareness and action.
- We shared regular posts and action center links within the Event page for more information and advocacy opportunities.
Arranged for our production team to join Mindy Henderson and Madison Lawson on their travels to D.C. for MDA’s Hill Day to fight for accessible air travel.
- Captured and produced the first-hand story of limited-access air travel.
Leveraged video ads to execute a smart and precise video ad campaign to reach and activate potential advocates in favor of accessible air travel.
- The videos raised awareness and directed individuals to the MDA Action Center through Facebook video ads and YouTube video ads.
- Ads were targeted to individuals impacted by muscular dystrophy, including patients, caregivers, and family members, as well as medical professionals and those concerned about increased accessibility.
- In addition, ads were retargeted to those that interacted with the virtual MDA Hill Day Facebook Event, as well as Facebook followers and lookalikes – for a full circle targeting strategy.
Deployed a follow up campaign to ensure action with audiences that viewed the video content on Facebook
- Those who viewed the video were retargeted with graphics that promoted a strong call to action to submit within the Action Center.
Strategic Elements contributions to the air accessibility campaign supported comprehensive results secured by MDA. These results, driven by a combination of Strategic Elements and MDA initiatives, include over 2 million video views across owned, paid, and influencer channels, and over 5,600 messages sent to Congress advocating for accessible air travel – constituting roughly 50 percent of the total messages communicated through MDA in 2023. Specifically, our ad campaign resulted in over 1 million impressions and 13,201 engagements.
In addition, the videos led to a major airline making immediate adjustments to their training program to be increasingly inclusive and a partnership with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to establish training for TSA officers focused on interactions with travelers living with neuromuscular disease and other disabilities affecting their mobility. One of the key resources for the training will be the MDA videos created by Strategic Elements.
As of November 2023, the United States House of Representatives included favorable and key inclusions in the FAA Reauthorization Package, and the United States Senate has not yet finalized or passed its version.