When Kimberley Barreda was refused an audition for a beer commercial because she was in a wheelchair, she decided becoming a guerrilla marketer for the disabled was the best revenge. "The casting director told me, `I don't have to audition you people,' but if the beer company knew how many of `us people' drink beer, that director would probably be out of a job," says Barreda, 33.
That experience was the genesis of CRIPmedia, which provides marketing and advertising services to companies that target disabled consumers. Founded in early 1997, the Whitefish, Montana, business provides information about what products disabled consumers use and serves as a talent agency for actors with disabilities.
Cripworld.com, the primary source of income for Barreda's fledgling empire, is an online resource and information network for disabled consumers and advertisers. "Cripworld.com gave us quick name recognition, partly because the name is somewhat controversial," says Barreda. " `Crip' has a negative connotation for some people, but to most well-adjusted disabled people, it's a blunt, honest term that describes who they are much better than `disabled.' "
Equally controversial is "The Adventures of Beverlee" (http://www.cripworld.com/beverlee/beverlee.htm), a comic strip with a disabled heroine (below) that gets more than 250 hits per day.
By the end of 1999, Barreda's second full year in operation, she expects sales to hit nearly $150,000.