DIVERSITY – IT’S NOT CAN IT BE DONE, BUT HOW SOON?Thought Leadership
We live in a beautifully multicultural and forward-thinking world, with advanced minds constantly powering new technologies, advancing education and solving key issues on a daily basis. The topics of diversity and representation have (thankfully) been pushed towards the forefront of such efforts as a result of our progressive society.
Today, we are all consuming more media and content than ever, in fact the average person spends over two hours on social media and is exposed to 5000 advertisements every day.
So, as more brands continue to adopt a multi-channel strategy in order to promote this content on a global scale, we as market leaders are now more than ever, responsible for addressing the concerns regarding diversity and representation in media.
Unfortunately, this responsibility has not been taken into action by many, which has left brands working with the same talents who don’t resonate with their audience, nor address such issues.
Continue reading as we deep dive into such concerns and how we can better work together to tackle diversity and representation in 2020.
TACKLING DIVERSITY AND REPRESENTATION
Recently, our CEO and Co-Founder William Soulier participated in a panel at the Influencer Marketing Show which focused on this topic. The host, Amie Shearer provided an excellent example of how brands and platforms alike can take on this responsibility and better prioritise diversity. She explained:
“During my time at Mumsnet, I chose to put quotas in place to ensure diversity and representation was front of mind for my (all-white) team: influencer shortlists sent to clients required a minimum of 20% of the creators being from a minority background – whether that was BAME, SEN, adoptive or LGBT families or other. This didn’t mean that quality, relevance or engagement rates dropped. It simply meant the team had to work harder to ensure all criteria were met.”
Without a doubt, our industry has most certainly been a very disruptive genre to the market when it comes to brand content. However, many have (unfortunately) not been immune to the same mistakes traditional media and advertising have made regarding diversity. As a result, we are still predominantly seeing beautiful, white, straight, able and privileged advocates across our screens, poorly promoting such media.
LET’S LOOK AT THE STATS
The University College London produced research that found that 71% of black Londoners felt they were not well represented and 61% of British Asians felt there was an under-representation of Asian communities. “Sexualisation of women” was by far the most common answer as to why respondents disliked adverts, with 68% saying that women are often displayed in revealing clothes when it’s not necessary or relevant.
With so many groups of our society feeling marginalised at worse, and at best unaccounted for, how can the newest breed of marketing do better?
THE BRANDS MAKING A DIFFERENCE
However, many campaigns are becoming more aware of the issue of diversity. In fact, there has been some great and recent examples of how to seamlessly represent a whole range of groups, as some brands aim to pave the way to a more inclusive media approach.
For instance, Boots have long been held in high esteem by both marketing professionals and the public for their hugely diverse adverts and outreach methods. For example, last year we saw an advert that included Em Ford – who runs a YouTube channel called My Pale Skin where she openly shows her acne and blemishes in order to encourage viewers to see a variety of skin, which is not just picture-perfect. Other talents included Michelle, a Boots No7 in-store advisor and a dancer and amputee Kat Hawkins in efforts to resonate with their target market at scale.
In 2019, we also saw a ground-breaking partnership between LVMH and Rihanna, which established the entrepreneur as the first woman of colour to head a house at the luxury goods company. Consequently, we can see how both brands have been diverse in a way that feels natural and right to their identity and together, showcase how such efforts can be achieved.
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I'm not going to tell you you're strong, because the fact that you're still here means that you already know that. I'm not going to tell you that everything will be okay, because you're smart enough to know that's not true – at least not for everyone. I'm not going to tell you that everyone around you cares, and that they're there for you – because you've already worked out by now, that isn't actually true. And I'm not going to just tell you to simply 'tell someone' what you're going through, because you and I both know that if things were that simple, everything would be easier. All i'm going to say is that if you've made it this far, in spite of everything you've been through, in spite of everyone you've come up against – I salute you, and I see you. Those times you didn't think you could stand, didn't think you could walk, didn't think you could talk- you did. Those people who were once your everything and made you feel as if you couldn't – you can, and you did. It's #WorldMentalHealth day, and I just wanted to tell you that your thoughts matter, your feelings matter, and you matter. That's all.
THE EASY WAY OUT
Whilst some are making some really positive moves, there is still some way to go. Certainly, when diversity is shoe-horned into a campaign, we can all agree that there is a high risk of tokenism. Unfortunately tokenism has been the ‘go-to’ choice in order for many to appear diverse and ultimately summaries the failed efforts achieved by poor strategies, which in turn diminish the industries representation.
So why are so many mistakes still being made around diversity? And why is it taking so long for brands and platforms alike to source a truly diverse cast of talent? One reason we discussed at the IMS panel was simply habit and laziness.
Many marketers are choosing to work with the same talent who they know and trust, because it helps make the process easy and also because they offer benefits such as cost-effective pricing. This results in the same few faces being recycled across multiple campaigns, which in turn doesn’t actually promote advocacy. Instead it alerts the savvy consumers (who are otherwise becoming more alert when it comes to brand content) and devalues the authenticity of the campaign.
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Yaaas! 🙌 thanks @neelamkg for using your voice to speak up about tokenism and prejudice in the industry. Let the video do the talking… • • • #Repost @stylistmagazine #Fashion #Media #PoC #SouthAsian #IndianModel #BritishAsian #Tokenism #Model #Empower #SpeakOut #NeelamGill #Blog #Bloggers #UKblogger #BritishBindi
We are all a part of a new and innovative industry, and because it is constantly evolving, we believe that we can still work together to activate the positive efforts required to solve these concerns and ultimately address the issues of representation across campaigns on a global scale.
But, such action needs to be done sooner, rather than later, in order to avoid repeating the same mistakes. As market leaders it is our duty to represent everyone; people with disabilities, people of colour, plus size people and much more. The world is tired of the beautiful, young and white standard taking over our billboards, TV screens and social channels. That’s why it is our responsibility to help educate brands by working true talent who can become the media of tomorrow.
As Amie Shearer says, “until we address this within our own teams at brands, agencies and platforms alike, diversity and representation in advertising – we are likely to continue to be something teams have to actively consider through quotas, tick boxing and other means rather than it simply coming naturally to the creative process.”