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6 Ways To Produce More Inclusive Holiday Campaigns

Several lights with red and gold vessels, to celebrate Diwali

Today, only 41% of U.S. consumers say they feel represented in advertisements, even though 71% say they want brands to focus on diversity and inclusion. With the holidays right around the corner, brands have a unique opportunity to spread some much-needed cheer by creating campaigns that more accurately reflect their audiences. Here are six ways to create a more inclusive holiday campaign.

Avoid assumptions.

Because 90% of Americans celebrate Christmas, many brands have traditionally focused their advertising efforts on the holiday. But as America becomes increasingly diverse, it’s important to recognize that your customers likely commemorate many moments and festivities—from Diwali to Hanukkah to the Lunar New Year. Instead of assuming that everyone celebrates the same holidays you do, start by identifying your own biases. And remember that even people who celebrate the same holiday often do so for different reasons and in different ways.

For example, although the majority of Americans celebrate Christmas, only 46% of Americans say they observe it as a primarily religious holiday. I’m Jewish, but I’ve always loved Christmas because it’s a time when my family gets to come together, create special memories and celebrate how much we mean to each other. For a growing number of Americans, holidays are not necessarily about religious aspects but about the opportunity to come together and make cherished memories with loved ones. So when planning your next holiday campaign, consider hosting a brainstorming session with your team to learn more about the holidays they celebrate (and how they celebrate them). This can help inform and inspire your team as you work on a campaign that will hit all the right notes.

Focus on universal themes.

If you grew up leaving milk and cookies out for Santa every Christmas Eve, you might assume that everyone will resonate with campaigns about jolly old Saint Nick, but some of your customers may not relate to that imagery in the same way you do. Instead of making a campaign about a holiday icon like Santa, consider focusing on universal themes like generosity, peace and belonging instead. By highlighting things that everyone can connect with, you can help your message reach the widest audience possible.

​​Ensure representation.

Commit to listening to and learning from people in the community that you are telling a story about. And enlist a diverse set of people to bring the campaign to life, from your staff and crew members to the models and story leads that will be the face of the campaign. You can also consider hiring a diverse agency or consultant to help you identify any blind spots and confirm that the story is told sensitively and accurately. By ensuring that diversity is a core part of the project from start to finish, you can create a campaign that helps consumers feel truly represented.

Expand the narrative.

Avoid clichés this holiday season by producing campaigns that authentically speak to diverse experiences. For example, instead of creating a video about a nuclear family, you might want to tell a story about a single parent. You could even produce a campaign about a group of friends to highlight the many different expressions of family that exist.

Create a localized strategy.

If you’re a born-and-bred New Yorker, you might assume that everyone associates the holidays with snow—but that may not ring true for those who live in Arizona. Take your audience’s location into account so that the end result feels relatable. Consider creating localized campaigns instead of broad campaigns. You can do this by researching the markets you want to target and then working with local experts (such as employees, agencies or partners) to make sure your content is culturally relevant. They can also help you share your message in a way that feels relatable and familiar to your target audience.

Create accessible content.

The holidays are all about connection and shared experiences. With that in mind, it’s important to make sure your campaign is accessible to everyone. Because reds and greens can be difficult for colorblind people to distinguish between, consider using different colors (or more distinct shades and shapes). Next, make sure everything is captioned so that people in the deaf and hard-of-hearing community can still ingest the message.

Finally, if you’re posting something on social media or another online platform, you can also create an alt text (an invisible description that can be read by a screen device). This enables customers with visual impairments to understand and connect with the campaign. One important note to keep in mind: The way that screen readers announce emojis is typically in a very literal way that might not fit into the sentence (for example, “yellow 5-point star”). It’s a good idea to listen to the text you wrote with a screen reader to see if the sentence still makes sense.

By making your content accessible to as many people as possible, you can create a holiday campaign that is merry, bright and well received by your audience.

Written By:
Hunter Johnson, CEO
November 04, 2022