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Diversity in Advertising: Are we there yet?

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Diversity has been a talking point for many decades, but in the world of advertising, it is still something that can sometimes lag behind the rest of the modern world in representation. So often we see white cis families, with women doing the cleaning and men doing DIY, attending lovingly to their 2.4 children.

Research by The Drum earlier this year found that despite women being responsible for 80% of consumer spending, a huge 76% of them felt that brands didn’t represent them. If women are half of the population and do not feel represented, then what hope is there for those with disabilities, minority races and the LGBTQ community?

Research from Lloyds Banking Group late last year found that just 19% of people featured in advertising are from minority groups and of that only 0.06% were disabled or LGBTQ and only 0.29% were single parents.

Compare this to the real world and disabled people represent 17.9% of the population, LGBTQ represent 1.7% and single parents 25%.

When it came to the subject of race, the research found that black people appeared in 5.65% of ads, mixed race people in 3.86% and Asian people in 2.71%.

Thankfully, we have seen a change of late and more diversity seeping into the British ad world, but for people to feel truly represented, this needs to feel less of a novelty and be something we see across the industry. Advertising needs to feel like a natural representation of the nation and diversity needs to be common place, not token.

Here are just some of the best examples of diversity in advertising in the past year:

John Lewis – Buster the Boxer

A highlight of the year, the entire nation anticipates the premiere of the John Lewis Christmas ad and 2016’s Buster the Boxer was no exception. This year, John Lewis used a black family for the first time in their Christmas advertising but there was no fanfare or song and dance made, it was a natural addition and one that was quietly applauded and appreciated.

Advertising needs to feel like a natural representation of the nation and diversity needs to be common place, not token.

Channel 4 – Superhumans

Channel 4 has been credited for bringing a huge amount of attention to the Paralympics when it had previously been an afterthought on the BBC. The Channel 4 Superhumans campaigns in 2012 and 2016 both fantastically represented and celebrated our British Paralympians but not only did the ad shed light on amazing athletes but showed people with disabilities from all walks of life with 120 disabled people appearing in the advertisement with a cast of 150.

Lloyds Banking – This is Real Life

Lloyds launched a new ad last year, showing people frozen in various stages of life including engagement proposal, giving birth, a child starting school and a funeral with the famous black horse running through these moments. Within the ad, the couple in the middle of a proposal were same-sex. Again, this was a fantastic example of including diversity within an ad in a subtle and natural way. Lloyds even used the image in an OOH campaign with the tagline ‘He said Yes’.

H&M – Like a Lady

H&M celebrated a range of women in its Autumn/Winter campaign and challenged traditional ideas about femininity across a plethora of races. To the soundtrack of She’s a Lady, the ad showed a woman with unshaven armpits, a transgender model, athletic women, curvy women, women with a shaved head, women with natural black hair, young women, older women, women with a full face of make up, women with no make up, women leading the boardroom – it was truly a celebration of women.

Stacey Cosens, Campaign Planner

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