Diversity in marketing and advertising is important. When selling a product or service you want everyone in your audience to see themselves benefiting from what you have to offer. It is important that everyone feels understood and represented at a deeper level.
Being more inclusive in your advertising starts at the beginning of the creative process. Identities to consider include but are not limited to, race, gender, ability, religion, family structure, and sexual orientation. People more often connect with advertisements that present a person who shares similar identities. As a white female, I feel represented in almost every ad I see. So how can we make everyone feel seen?
1. Know your audience.
This doesn’t just mean putting a label on them, this means research! You can never fully understand the experiences of others, but educating yourself on other cultures and life experiences will help you connect to people through your creativity. You want your audience to feel like they can truly relate to what they are interacting with. This is especially crucial in advertising when you are targeting an audience you do not want to feel excluded.
2. Educate ourselves.
Now that we know we need to educate ourselves, how should we actually do this? Keeping up with the news is very important, and not just from your own perspective. Consider every perspective, read personal stories, fact check and talk to others about what you have learned. Keeping an open mind is also an important part of creating inclusive advertising. Just because someone’s life experience isn’t the same as your own, doesn’t mean it’s not a reality other people experience. Having this sense of empathy is crucial when working in advertising and marketing. Trying to put yourself in others’ shoes to better relate and engage people when marketing to them is key.
3. Hire and retain a diverse staff.
Bringing multiple views and perspectives to the table will help ensure your audience feels represented and allow them to be heard. There are many benefits to having a diverse team collaborating on projects, including the growth of ideas, variety of perspectives, and insights to the broader audience. Different backgrounds can help push work to new heights allowing ideas to grow and adapt through conversations.
4. Review work with people with different perspectives.
It is important to view your work through different lenses. This ensures that advertising is inclusive, accurate, and relatable. Make sure you check your bias and use empathy when creating work. Everyone has something called “implicit bias”. In very simple terms, implicit bias is an unknowing preference for a certain group of people who share the same identity as you. In order to prevent your implicit bias from affecting your work you first need to acknowledge it. Implicit bias doesn’t make you a bad person. It’s an instinctual survival mechanism, but we must move past this. The Implicit Bias Test by Harvard allows individuals to check their own biases. Recognizing them and reflecting is the first step in making your work less biased. This can’t just happen by taking an online test, there also needs to be diversity training and opportunities for self–reflection.
5. Create an inclusive work environment.
When having a diverse creative space, ensure that everyone feels safe and comfortable to share and challenge ideas. Allowing everyone’s ideas to be heard and creating an environment where people can give constructive feedback is a crucial part of creating content. This ensures that any bias is caught and that growth can happen as a team. Some people may think of ideas in meetings, while some may come up with them after a meeting has finished. During a virtual meeting, open up the chat feature to allow those who may be uncomfortable speaking up verbally to weigh in. Then, after a meeting send out a recap email and ask if there are any additional thoughts. Another way to make sure everyone has a voice and a space to share comments and concerns on how to make the workplace better in surveys. Anonymous surveys allow the community to be open and honest about things that could be improved to make a more inclusive space
When working in marketing and advertising, it’s critical that everyone feels represented and seen. This will ensure that your campaigns are successful at reaching your audience. This doesn’t just mean hiring diverse talent, it means starting with the inner workings of the department or agency. Think about how you and your colleagues can incorporate these tips into your careers and how to promote growth within your office. It will take time and effort to reach this work environment, but it is very crucial that everyone on your team and the people you reach feel comfortable, included, and seen.
Taylor Cote is a student at Rocky Hill Country Day and a summer intern with RDW Group. She will begin her studies at Elon University in the fall. During her high school career, she tried to learn and grow as much as she could and plans on exploring more in college to find a major she loves!