Social justice movements are impacting marketing campaigns

Marketers are pursuing more diversity in campaigns, but aren't collaborating with DE&I professionals

Global creative platform Shutterstock has announced the release of its new report entitled: ‘DE&I in Marketing: A Global Report by Shutterstock.’

Exploring the “opinions and actions” of 2,700 marketers across Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, Italy, South Korea, Spain, the UK, and the USA, the report also covered “their use of diverse content in marketing campaigns and how global events have impacted decisions.”

Social movements – the impact on marketers and diverse content

The report found that many brands developed anti-racism pledges in response to major social justice movements including Black Lives Matter and Stop Anti-Asian Hate. In this regard, 63% of global marketers and 62% in the UK said these movements impacted their content decisions over the past year.

The results also show a heightened desire among brands to “effectively represent the world we live in over what their brand’s purpose is” (34% vs 33%).

However, 41% of global marketers and 40% of UK marketers said they still prioritise their own company ideology in their campaigns, compared to 32% of global and 30% of UK marketers who “look to reflect the political landscape.” In the UK, 39% of markers compared to 26% of global marketers actively “aim for their campaign creative to oppose the political landscape.”

A growing awareness of diverse representation

Marketers are aware of the importance of producing content that resonates with their diverse audience base, where 65% said they “agree that racial and ethnic diversity is an important factor when targeting campaign audiences.” Furthermore, 60% of UK marketers said they “significantly consider the issue of colourism when selecting models and content for campaigns.”

A majority, (77%) of marketers also said they expect to use more diverse representation in their campaigns, with 76% stating there is still room for growth.

Aside from racial diversity, in the UK, marketers have started using more transgender models and gender-fluid, non-binary, and androgynous models. Transgender representation has increased from 14% to 21%, and gender-fluid, non-binary, and androgynous models have increased from 15% to 22% since 2019.

In terms of gender diversity globally, content that features females in campaigns has seen the biggest growth over the last 12 months at 28% while the second most popular content increase featured racially diverse models (26%).

Marketers also said that “accurate representation” is the top reason behind increasing their usage of content featuring same-sex couples (64%), racially diverse models (68%), people with disabilities (60%), and transgender models (62%). Furthermore, 75% of marketers said they “understand the importance of this content being created authentically by the same audience it intends to reach.”

While brands show a growing awareness around socially responsible, diverse and authentic marketing campaigns, many Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) heads aren’t involved in their firm’s marketing decisions. Globally, only 31% of Head of DE&I hires are involved in all marketing decisions, with 14% having no involvement at all and instead only support the HR function. In the UK, even fewer (28%) DE&I heads are involved in all marketing decisions.

The impact of Brexit and COVID-19

Many UK marketers fear that Brexit has impacted their ability to hire diverse creative talent, (48%). The same amount also believes that Brexit has affected “the diversity of their marketing campaigns.”

However, there is evidence that marketers are trying to combat this lack of diversity by ensuring their campaigns represent “all the cultures that make up modern British society to ensure authentic representation” (39%).

Respondents said international lockdown laws due to COVID-19 have also impacted their content diversity goals. In fact, 37% of global marketers and 34% of UK marketers said their ability to “source diverse content had been significantly impacted due to travel restrictions.”

Furthermore, 25% said they have been “unable to localise content for individual markets,” where this was believed to be worse in the UK (29%). Worryingly, these conditions have caused one in six (17%) global marketers to violate lockdown restrictions in order to create diverse content.

To read the report in full, click here.

In this article, you learned that:

  • Marketers globally are responding to social justice movements like Black Lives Matter.
  • However, many marketing teams aren’t collaborating with their firm’s DE&I heads on campaigns.
  • Transgender representation has increased from 14% to 21% since 2019 in UK campaigns.
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