The world has changed a lot in the past five years, and maybe no more so than in the realm of inclusivity. People want to see it reflected in the brands and companies that they work with, so before any marketing or lead generation campaign can take off, it’s vital to ensure your company is on the right side of the ledger when it comes to diversity. You need to truly understand your target audiences.
The makeup of your team matters.
This is one of the central issues of our time. Diversity isn’t just about skin colour or gender. It’s also about age. Geography and socio-economic diversity. Abilities and sexuality. How are you going to get insights into what the Asian-Canadian market wants from a product, or whether older women will support an issue if there’s no one on your team who is part of that community, and can provide input as to how a particular concept or idea is likely to be received. When your team isn’t reflective of society and the marketplace, you get embarrassing campaigns like the Kylie Jenner ad in which Pepsi tried to comment on Black Lives Matter and police brutality by selling their product. Not a good idea, but nevertheless it passed their in-house team’s sniff test. Six months after the debacle, PepsiCo president Brad Jakeman stepped down, telling Ad Age the spot was “the most gut-wrenching experience of my career.” Had the team been more diverse and understanding of their target audience, the ad likely wouldn’t have seen the light of day.
It’s 2019. Lose the stereotypes.
Women still account for only about 37 percent of characters in advertising, according to See Jane, an organization that tackles gender bias in media. Too many of these roles were straight-up stereotypes of women: women in kitchens, women doing laundry, or moms chasing after toddlers. Women complain rightfully that these representations come at a cost. Embarrassingly, there are still instances of complete wrong-footedness when it comes to campaigns. A couple of examples that will make it into textbooks if they haven’t already, are the aforementioned Pepsi fiasco, and the Dove debacle that saw an African-American women turn into a white woman after using Dove body wash. The Dove example in particular is so obviously wrong and offensive it defies logic that it got through the approval process. Disturbingly, even a child could see the underlying message that having dark skin equates to being dirty.
Diverse marketing isn’t just a box you can tick. Hold yourself accountable.
Have a look at the campaigns and assets you’ve approved and check them for things like number of men vs women and other races versus white people. Check the average age of people in the ads, are they ludicrously low, like 24 and this this apply? Establish benchmarks so you can track your progress and register year-over-year (YOY) improvements in your diversity metrics.