A Household Brand’s Campaign Tells Stories of Autistic Teens


While neurodiversity remains underrepresented in advertising, a British household brand is on a mission to increase public understanding about autistic experiences.

Vanish, a garment care brand owned by Reckitt, launched the second installment of a campaign to shift perceptions about autism. This time, it is calling on the general public and leaders in schools, businesses and sports to support the clothing needs of autistic people. 

The “More Than Just Clothes” project, created by agency Havas London, is based on the insight that 70% of autistic people think their lives would improve if people understood why clothes matter to them. Clothes can hold deeper significance among autistic people by helping with sensory regulation or providing routine, acceptance and comfort. 

Two documentary-style films bring this insight to life. The spots allow two real autistic teenage girls, Cozzie and Lani, to tell their stories in their own words, while animated sequences illustrate their ties to specific items of clothing. 

Lani is attached to a hoodie that lets her escape into a “little cocoon” when she feels overwhelmed. Meanwhile, Cozzie explains why her goalkeeper shirt is a “lifeline” to her while playing soccer. 

Along with the films, the project introduces the More Than Just Clothes Pledge, which asks people to remember principles based on the acronym JUST: “leave judgment out of clothing,” “understand the clothing needs of autistic people,” “see clothes as sensory tools” and “help everyone thrive by feeling empowered to wear clothes they’re comfortable in.” 

The campaign comes with a social toolkit, posters and a badge that can be shared on social channels encouraging others to take the pledge. Like last year, model and author Christine McGuinness, as well as other micro-influencers who are autistic, will produce online content to support the initiative. 

Vanish also partnered with charity Ambitious About Autism again, donating £60,000 ($75,430) to the organization this year.

Starting a journey

Vanish’s campaign began last year with “Me, My Autism & I,” which told the story of a real autistic girl named Ash and the visceral importance of her hoodie. It focused on the experiences of autistic girls, who are three times less likely to receive a diagnosis than boys, according to Ambitious About Autism. 

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