M&S TV advert to feature disabled boy Seb White
Ben Ross is Head of Travel at The Independent. He has worked for the paper for over a decade, and began reporting on travel in 2001. Before joining the travel desk full time, he ran The Independent's special projects department. He started his journalistic career at the BBC working for its commercial arm, BBC Worldwide.
Monday 05 November 2012
A four-year-old boy with Down's Syndrome, who modelled for Marks & Spencer after an internet campaign by his mother, will make his television debut in a Christmas advert this week.
The 50-second commercial featuring Seb White will make history by becoming the first UK television ad from a major high street brand to feature a model with a learning disability, according to M&S.
Seb, from Bath, was first spotted when his mother Caroline, 39, posted his picture on the M&S Facebook page highlighting the lack of disabled children in advertising in August.
He was subsequently invited to appear in a photoshoot for the Christmas customer catalogue and performed so well that he was asked to come back to shoot the television ad.
Steve Sharp, executive director of marketing at M&S, said: "Our initial involvement with Seb was due to the overwhelming response to Caroline's post on our Facebook page.
"However, he won his place in our TV ad thanks to the natural charm and magical personality he showed on set at our magazine shoot. All the kids had great fun filming the ad and Seb really was one of the gang - which is exactly how it should be."
The advert will be broadcast for the first time during Coronation Street on ITV1 on Wednesday, but a preview will be available on the retailer's website from earlier the same day.
The Christmas advert was shot by Jake Nava, the pop music director behind the video for Beyonce's Single Ladies, and will feature a new Rod Stewart cover of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.
Marks & Spencer has been praised by Mencap, a learning disability charity, for choosing Seb to appear in the advert.
Emma Harrison, from the charity, said: "We are absolutely delighted. Seb is a charming and very appealing little boy, and his mother Caroline has fought hard to ensure that he has the same opportunities as lots of other children, to show what he can do and gain confidence.
"The fact that he has Down's Syndrome and will be seen by millions of people on TV and in posters in stores will help us challenge some of the misunderstanding and prejudices that can make life difficult for so many children."
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