Comcast to Tout Technology for the Blind During Oscars

Comcast CMCSA +1.12% will make its debut as a national advertiser in the Oscars in Sunday’s telecast. The topic won’t be promotions or new services, but rather TV technology for the blind.

The cable giant is running a nationwide, 60-second ad promoting its new talking guide that reads aloud titles and selections to help visually impaired and blind people surf through their TV guides, set digital video recordings and browse video-on-demand options. Comcast says it’s the first such guide offered in the U.S.

Typical 60-second spots for the Academy Awards tend to go for $4 million apiece. While the cable giant tends to buy regional ad spots to hawk its promotions, Comcast says it’s going national with this ad because it wants to spark a broader conversation about improving the entertainment experience for disabled people. The company believes the talking guide could not only help those who are blind, but also seniors and people with reading disabilities.

The ad will feature a 7-year-old blind girl named Emily, who Comcast found through a network of schools for the blind and associations in the U.S. In the ad, Emily describes how she envisions the characters in her favorite movie, “The Wizard of Oz,” after having only ever heard the movie.

Comcast tapped the director Andreas Nilsson of Biscuit Filmworks to direct a short documentary where set designers recreate the characters in Oz—the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion, the Scarecrow—just as Emily envisions them. The Cowardly Lion, for instance, has webbed duck feet, and the Tin Man has a “big toe the size of a house,” Emily says in the ad. Emily herself is Dorothy. The documentary ends with Emily and the characters as she imagines them walking down the Yellow Brick Road.

To read the rest of this article, published in the Wall Street Journal, please click here.