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Inclusive Creative: The Stakes

Published: August 24, 2020

Author: Becca Debono

Sr. Creative Strategist Lauren Dawson also contributed to this post.
Diversity is important. Since you clicked on this article, we’re guessing you already know that, but we’re also guessing that a reminder won’t hurt. Why? Because if you’re like most marketers, your brand’s creative lacks inclusive content.
A 2016 study showed that only 19% of people in paid digital media ads are from minority groups. And according to a more recent 2,000-person global survey from Adobe on representation in advertisements, “66 percent of African-Americans said they feel their ethnic identity is often portrayed stereotypically, a sentiment shared by 53% of Latino/Hispanic Americans.” Now that we’ve acknowledged the disconnect, let’s take a few minutes to remind ourselves why brands should be developing a diverse creative output.
First and foremost, we believe that inclusion is part of a brand’s social responsibility. This is an opportunity to be part of the change and keep culture moving forward. A brand is no longer just a business; it’s a set of beliefs and stories. Advertising is the method for that brand’s mission and message to be conveyed to the rest of the world. Is your brand pushing out a message of unity and inclusion, or is it re-enforcing dated stereotypes and ignoring entire pieces of our population? How should you examine your culture to make sure you’re in step with the demands and values of the times?
Second, including diversity in your brand creative is an opportunity to create something that is fresh, new, and inspiring. “Fresh” and “inspiring” work is the holy grail for most marketing creatives. As performance-based creative strategists at 3Q, we are constantly encouraging clients to “think outside the box” and to source imagery that will stand out from crowded feeds. Including diverse imagery outside of the status quo is another way to achieve this (and is compatible with performance goals). Ads that challenge the status quo in an inclusive way have proven to be memorable; a good example from 1994 is the iconic Calvin Klein “One” campaign (image courtesy of Fragrantica.com), whose TV and print campaigns drew tremendous attention to the brand:

Will your brand help lead the charge with improved inclusivity and representation, or will changing demographics eventually make the decision for you? In fact, it seems the expectation is already here: according to a diversity survey by Shutterstock of 2,500 marketers, “research shows 9 in 10 of Generation X (91%) and Millennial (92%) marketers believe they are expected to use more diverse representation in their campaigns, and 88% of Gen X and 90% of Millennials believe that this helps a brand’s reputation.” In order to future-proof your brand, you must recognize that consumers and attitudes are changing and take action to reflect those changes.
Finally, incorporating diversity in your creative allows your brand to reach a broader audience by appealing to more people. The world we live in isn’t full of white, attractive, able-bodied people, although marketing campaigns and movies may have you conditioned to see the world that way. Audiences across the globe are diverse, and data shows that. According to the U.S. Census, “by 2044, more than half of all Americans are projected to belong to a minority group.” The key to resonating with these diverse audiences? Developing diverse creative so they can see themselves using, and enjoying, your products or services.
It’s impossible to test what you don’t build as far as diversity is concerned. So we challenge you to consider the following steps on DE&I (Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion) within your current and future campaigns and make a commitment to be more representative of groups who lack representation on the broader scale of paid media.
Are you ready to take on that commitment?! Stay tuned for our next blog post, on how to put it into practice.

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