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A Step-by-Step Guide to Ensuring Diversity in Marketing Campaigns

Driven by the realization that 70% of female-identifying and non-binary individuals don’t feel represented in media and advertising, Dove partnered with Getty Images and Girlgaze to more accurately depict women around the world. Unveiled in 2019, Project #ShowUs is a collection of 5,000+ images of real women—including plus-size women, trans women, and women with disabilities—that advertisers can use to create more accurate and authentic marketing campaigns. Diverse marketing campaigns like Project #ShowUs are an indication that a growing number of brands are realizing the importance of creating more diverse marketing campaigns.

Chastity Sereal, a Black female fashion designer

According to a VAB study entitled “Do the Right Thing: How Diversity and Inclusion Drives Brand Outcomes,” ad campaigns with core messages tied to diversity and inclusivity lead to more positive business outcomes. The study, which was based on hundreds of advertising campaigns and more than 3,300 TV spots from 50+ brands over a five-year period, creates a compelling case for why brands should strive to market in a more meaningful way. Here’s how business leaders can create more diverse and inclusive marketing campaigns.

Take all cultural moments throughout the year into consideration

From holiday-themed marketing campaigns to notes of gratitude on Thanksgiving, most businesses have a clear-cut strategy for how to engage with their customers on major holidays. But in order to become more inclusive, companies can create content centered on other important cultural moments throughout the year, from International Women’s Day to Juneteenth. Diversity is representation, so make sure all of your customers can see themselves represented in your campaigns.

2 women and a child waving through windows. Colorful wall reads "Women Owned" @coolhaus

Do research to make sure you aren’t falling prey to stereotypes

While the need to create more inclusive content and marketing campaigns is long overdue, it’s important to go about it in the right way to avoid the appearance that your company is just trying to jump on the bandwagon or capitalize on the current climate. One of the most important ways to ensure a positive outcome is to enlist the support and guidance of people who are actually members of the particular community you are trying to reach. Engage those communities by having meaningful conversations together about who they are and what is important to them.

When Xpedition worked with Google to create films for Transgender Awareness Week, we partnered with GLAAD to ensure the stories were told authentically. And when we created a Vet Job Search Tool video, we joined forces with the United Service Organizations. We also staffed our creative teams and production crews with people who belong to these groups. By conducting the necessary research and working with organizations that understand a particular landscape or community, companies can create campaigns that are heartfelt and genuine.

Empower those who have lived the stories to tell them

Research has shown that diverse teams are better able to solve complex problems because they can present more perspectives and possible solutions. When brainstorming future marketing campaigns, ask your team members to weigh in on how to craft a message that resonates with your target audience. For example, if you are working on a marketing spot for National Hispanic Heritage Month, make sure that you have 1) engaged unique voices within the community to gain authentic perspective and 2) ensured that Hispanic people are involved in leading the campaign so that the story is told sensitively and accurately.

If you don’t have anyone on your team from an underrepresented group who can lead the creative and guide the conversation, partner with organizations that serve and represent your target audience. You can also hire a consultant or diverse agency to help guide the creative process.

Woman records a black female chef.
Photoshoot for family that consists of two women and two children.

Utilize your content for the greatest good

Impact is maximized when you connect with the hearts of an underrepresented group as well as educate outsiders by facilitating understanding and compassion. So while creating diverse content is paramount, it’s also vital to get that content seen by a wide audience. Work across teams (i.e. social media, marketing, media buying, internal employee organizations, etc.) to come up with a distribution plan that will ensure that the content gets seen by the most diverse audience possible.

Written By:
September 18, 2020