Inclusive Marketing Matters  – And This Is How It’s Done

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Have you unlocked the power of trends in your marketing strategy? In this three-part series, Meabh Quoirin, CEO at Foresight Factory takes you on a journey through the winners and losers in marketing diversely, the unmissable trends for 2019 and how to find the trends that matter for your brand.

Missed part one? Start here.

Does your marketing go beyond a superficial nod to diversity? Scrap superficial representation and learn how to get inclusive marketing right.

Diverse marketing shifts towards inclusivity

It is a story you have heard before I am sure, but diversity in marketing has become more important than ever. The average consumer is developing an increasingly sophisticated understanding of how their different identities intersect and are taking a fluid approach to markers once accepted as fixed such as gender. Now, 43% of consumers in Europe say that advertising is not doing a good job of representing diversity in their country, and you have a chance to fix that. Marketers have two options: entrench the needs of a target group in your branding or, become all inclusive to the intricacies of identity today.

The danger of ignoring diversity

Marketing diversely can be hard to get right. We can all think of the spot that made us cringe when it failed to hit the mark. I argue that brands must be brave and do their best to understand and properly represent their audience. Why? Because the cost of not doing so has become too high.

Audiences are now less afraid to call out brands for their misdemeanors and outrage holds the viral appeal that makes for both bad brand image and earnings. Dolce & Gabbana (D&G) Chopsticks ad in China last Winter is a prime example. The video showed a Chinese women presented with various Italian foods as a narrator challenged her to eat them with chopsticks until he found something she could not pick up. Consumers were quick to call out the ad’s Orientalism and the backlash trended on Chinese social media sites. As a result of the outrage, D&G was forced to cancel a show in Shanghai, especially as a number of models and celebs pledged they would boycott it. Reports estimate D&G lost £22.5m on the show and a number of retailers in China pulled D&G offline reducing their retail scope.

The reward when brands get it right

Beyond the success of Nike’s Dream Crazy ad with Kaepernick and now Dream Crazier with Serena Williams (Nike’s stock has risen 22% since the end of December), there are a number of other brands who are also getting inclusivity right and are reaping the benefits. In a recent ‘Stepping into the Spotlight’ talk at the IPA (Institute of Practitioners in Advertising), Jean Reddan, Head of Brand Communications at Lloyds Bank and the Bank of Scotland explained how her team takes the feel-good factor as a serious metric with real impact on brand awareness and success. Lloyds won Channel 4’s Diversity in Advertising Award last year with an ad tackling the taboo of mental health. Some punters were left flummoxed, but for the 1 in 3 in Brits who get stressed and anxious easily, they know how money worries exacerbate poor mental health.

How can you get it right?

To help you always hit the mark, I’ve pulled together a checklist to bear in mind when creating an inclusive campaign:

  1. Have you done your research? Understand your audience in terms of the issues they face but also how they live, the platforms they use and their other activities and interests. If this sounds tricky don’t worry, In the final part of this series I will explain this process in more detail.
  2. Have you diversified your staff first? True representation starts internally and by having a diverse workforce you avoid falling into pitfalls that come from ignorance (however well intending your brand and staff are!). Make sure there is someone with creative and decision making power in the room who represents the audience you are speaking to.
  3. Can you go beyond communications? Consumers will sniff out empty messaging that isn’t backed up by your brand’s actions. Great campaigns can transform company culture too and make interactions at all touchpoints welcoming. For instance, Lloyds partnered with Mental Health UK to create a service that advised on mental health and money matters. But why have I not heard about this before? Is it in branches or do all financial advisors have mental health training?

This is just a starter for 10, but let me know what you think needs to happen to get the inclusive messaging right in the comments below. 

Meabh Quoirin

CEO & Co-Owner at Foresight Factory (Formally Future Foundation)

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