A marketing ad has caused some controversy by stipulating that all applicants must be dyslexic as it wants its employers to think differently. The ad, from new marketing company Garage, founded by former Saatchi & Saatchi Creative Director Chris Arnold, features the late Apple Co-Founder Steve Jobs, who himself was dyslexic, and states: “We require people with a unique mind, so only dyslexics (like Steve) should apply.”

Despite the controversial nature of this ad, the Advertising Standards Authority has ruled that the advert has not gone against its code, but the Equality And Human Rights Commission has yet to give their thoughts on it.

Garage Founder Chris Arnold describes himself as a “dyslexic entrepreneur” and has said that he doesn’t care if the ad is viewed as discriminatory against those who are not dyslexic, and that he is simply looking for the best innovative thinkers for his company and they are usually dyslexics.  He went on to cite a number of historical figures who are believed to have been dyslexic as high achievers in their fields, such as Albert Einstein, Leonardo Da Vinci and Thomas Edison, as well as stating that Sir Richard Branson is also dyslexic, and yet has achieved great success with his empire of Virgin companies.

The ad has triggered a huge debate among experts about whether the condition, which affects up to 10% of the UK population, should actually be known as a disability.  This comes as Britain’s largest sperm bank made a decision to start turning away donors with dyslexia, which it says is a “common genetic disease”. However, it has now backtracked on this decision after the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority intervened.

Garage isn’t the only company who has come under fire for disparaging comments against those who are dyslexic; Starbucks has recently lost a disability discrimination case after it wrongly accused a dyslexic employee of falsifying documents when she had simply misread the figures on it that she was responsible for recording.   Arnold has shared some of his thoughts on the Starbucks case and has said: “Dyslexia isn’t a disability, it’s an inability in a linear environment, but a great ability in a creative one. Dyslexics are great at creativity, imagination, strategic thinking and problem solving.”

The Advertising Standards Authority has said that there is nothing in the advertising code that prohibits a company from producing recruitment ads that seek dyslexic candidates only, however advertisers should make sure they follow any diversity and equality laws.  The Equality Act 2010 expressly states that treating someone with a disability more favourably than a person who is not disabled is not direct discrimination.

The British Dyslexia Association has stated that it is against any kind of discrimination but that employers should look at the abilities and strengths of someone who is dyslexic and what they can bring to a company as a member of staff.

What do you think about the controversial ad? Should it be banned or is the Advertising Standards Agency right to uphold it?