While the conversation and action around diversity, inclusivity, and belonging spiked in 2020, CMOs still struggle with inclusive advertising practices. Three core challenges are involved: 1) receiving backlash if the advertising “gets it wrong”; 2) seeing inclusivity in advertising as a “check the box” task; and 3) using inclusivity for PR instead of authentic representation.

Ensuring inclusivity in advertising can feel like a big undertaking, as briefs are normally focused on targeting or feature a specific audience. By incorporating incremental changes into your creative process, however, your marketing will invite more people and thinking to the table. My newly published report, Inclusivity In Advertising Is More Than A Checklist, details best practices for how to do this. As a preview, here are three examples to get you started:

  1. Mandate a diverse team of creatives and consultants. It’s people who bring new ideas and innovation to the table. Finding the right fit is the foundation for creating more inclusive advertising. When hiring a new agency or building a new team, this mandate can be built in through your statement of work or master service agreement. Consider bringing in employee resource groups as a point of consultation. Lastly, consider a balance of those with lived experiences and subject matter experts, which will give you a more objective perspective.
  2. Focus on resonance as opposed to mirroring. Inclusivity in advertising often falls into the talent-casting phase of the process. Marketers will generally lean on what their target audience looks like, which may be different from who culturally resonates with your audience. A way to avoid perfunctory “checklisting” is to broaden your casting requirements in two ways: First, understand to whom your audience culturally aspires, and second, open the aperture during your casting phase by including talent that goes beyond race — explore different ethnicities, ages, abilities, and sexual orientations.
  3. Build digital accessibility into your advertising process. Advertising doesn’t stop at production. How consumers experience it is just as important. Embed accessibility by auditing your current experiences to understand where improvements are needed. Work with accessibility partners to train and provide continual support to teams building these experiences via procuring services that specialize in accessibility or testing with people with disabilities.

Want to learn more? Schedule a guidance session with me here.