How disability-inclusive underwear brand Slick Chicks approached its first campaign

A new ad from the underwear brand shows disabled actor Jamey Perry going about her daily life.

How disability-inclusive underwear brand Slick Chicks approached its first campaign

Underwear brand Slick Chicks, which sells undergarments and clothes that are easy to put on and remove, has released its first ad campaign, and it stars paraplegic actor and athlete Jamey Perry.

The ad, called “Any Other Day” and created by Beyond Studios, shows Perry going about her daily life and is self-narrated. Perry speaks about “embracing disability” and “celebrating it,” adding, “It’s a thing that happened, but what happens after it?”

Scenes include Perry hanging out with her family, playing basketball and going to a skatepark in her wheelchair. “I like breaking expectations of what a wheelchair is and what it can do,” she says. She puts on kneecaps, elbow pads and a helmet before wheeling herself over the edge of a skatepark bowl.

The ad is part of a larger “Any Other Day” campaign whose broader message is an example of how all brands should approach disabilities, according to Perry and the brand's CEO, Helya Mohammadian.

The video is not meant to be “inspiration porn,” said Mohammadian, who created the company in 2013 after her sister went through a difficult pregnancy. The aim is to “share real stories” such as Perry’s, she said.

“There’s a certain framing that gets put around any story about disability” where “the villain of the story is disability,” said Perry. But “if there’s a villain of the story, it’s ableism,” she said.

The campaign, which will run through April, will appear on social media platforms including TikTok, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. It also includes Google search ads. TV ads are being considered.

New line planned

Slick Chicks has framed itself as being for everyone, rather than specifically for disabled people. “We are all always moving in and out of states of disability,” said Perry, giving an example of how she might be disabled trying to reach a high shelf in a store but is more able-bodied than many when it comes to moving around a skatepark.

This gets at the idea that although disability can be spoken about in terms of the barriers disabled people face, brands could also be thinking about inclusion, said Martyn Sibley, co-founder and CEO of Purple Goat Agency, a disability-focused and -led agency, which isn’t affiliated with Slick Chicks. Products could be altered to become “more flexible for more segments of consumers,” rather than simply creating something that is only meant for one type of consumer, he said.

Part of inclusion and accessibility includes price point, which “is high” for Slick Chicks’ products, said Meryl Alper, associate professor of communication studies at Northeastern University whose focus includes disability in digital media. The brand's underwear ranges in price from $22 to $39 per pair, in comparison to $16.99 for a six-pack of Hanes from Target.

To address this, the brand is creating a less expensive line which will launch in the second quarter of this year, said Mohammadian. 

Slick Chicks is sold by retailers including Target, J.C. Penney, CVS, Nordstrom, American Eagle lingerie brand Aerie, QVC, Lane Bryant and Zappos, according to Mohammadian. 

Slick Chicks was projected to end 2022 with $800,000 in revenue, according to a third-quarter report last year by Fempire Fund, an investment program by makeup brand Limelife By Alcone that invested $250,000 in Slick Chicks in the same year. Slick Chicks declined to share financial details.

Although people with disabilities make up around 26% of the U.S. population, they are only featured in 1% of linear TV ads, according to a 2021 study by Nielsen

Certain types of disabilities tend to go underrepresented more often, said Alper. This includes “invisible disabilities” such as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, which impacts a person’s connective tissue and affects their joints and skin, Alper said. In an industry that is highly visual, “it can be hard … to convey invisible disability, especially in a single image or 30-second campaign,” she said. She also suggested that brands make people with disabilities part of the production process for commercials or products.

Brands that have recently come out with products that aim to address specific issues faced by disabled individuals include a touch credit card from Mastercard introduced in 2021 that has notches allowing users to identify it by touch rather than sight. Healthcare company Haleon partnered with Microsoft last October to use the tech company’s SeeingAI app—which reads barcodes aloud—to allow visually impaired and blind consumers to scan barcodes and identify products that otherwise might feel the same. Deodorant brand Degree created a deodorant prototype in April 2021 with Wunderman Thompson that caters to various types of disabilities, including people with limited grip or impaired vision.

While these products show progress, brands can be too “self-congratulatory” when they release them, said Alper. The products themselves often don’t “account (for) other significant dimensions” such as financial instability that stops some visually impaired people from using a credit card, said Alper.