“The industry has an incumbent responsibility to really portray the beauty and diversity of the human race as it is, not as it’s been sanitised to be."
Jonathan Mildenhall, the Chief Marketing Officer at Airbnb
The importance of diversity in marketing has grown in response to the increasing diversity of the UK population. According to a UK Census, more than 50 percent of the UK population is expected to be composed of minority groups by the year 2042.
Consequently, the advertising industry is working hard to celebrate minorities in mainstream marketing in order to shine a light on inspirational role models. Brands are beginning to understand the importance of engaging consumer groups that have previously gone unrecognised, despite the powerful spending power and influence of these individuals.
Two recent LGBT brand marketing campaigns which work particularly well are Cornetto and Honey Maid – this is because they both use wider themes of love and freedom of expression, which is a message that everyone can relate to.
As part of Cornetto Ice Cream’s “Cupidity” web series, a pro tennis player and a line judge share a lesbian-love connection in a vignette narrated by Lily Allen. A wonderful and heart-warming story, which inspires everyone to find true love.
Honey Maid refreshed its image this year and redefined the word “wholesome” with a commercial featuring diverse families enjoying healthy snacks—including a gay male couple swaddling their newborn. “We recognize change is happening every day, from the way in which a family looks today, to how a family interacts, to the way it is portrayed in media,” said marketing director Gary Osifchin. The spot sparked controversy with a boycott from ‘One Million Moms’ who sent hate tweets and emails about the campaign. However, Honey Maid made perhaps the best countermove ever: They printed out the hateful tweets and emails and made a giant “Love” sculpture out of them, empowering the LGBT community.
However, there is still more work to be done for greater inclusion of minority groups in marketing, and, more importantly, greater diversity within the advertising industry as a whole.
Jonathan Mildenhall, the Chief Marketing Officer at Airbnb, and formerly the Vice President of global advertising strategy and creative excellence at the Coca-Cola Company, says he believes “the industry has an incumbent responsibility to really portray the beauty and diversity of the human race as it is, not as it’s been sanitised to be, through the lens of traditional marketing.”
It is through producing a real-life representation of the world that marketing can truly engage and inspire people with compelling content. And diversity is not just important for marketing, but also for the advertising industry as a whole.
Celebrating our similarities and differences is fundamentally important to foster a workplace where those in the industry can be themselves to produce the best creative work for brands.
If employers are serious about fostering a creative environment, they have to allow people from all walks of life to be authentic and themselves in the workplace in order to bring out their best work.
It is when people can be themselves that creative genius thrives.
By Andrew Barratt, Ogilvy Pride UK