I just submitted my application to the AAF Most Promising Multicultural Student program for 2017, and man was that difficult for me! One of the portions of the application was entirely too significant for a 300 word entry. Why is diversity important in advertising? I really felt challenged to articulate my feelings, but after a lot of cliches, bad metaphors, and well-written bullsh*t, I finally found a way to say how I really felt. I’m sure in 5 minutes, 5 days, or 5 years, I’ll have something entirely different to say. I wanted to capture it today so I have something to look back on.
Why is diversity important in advertising?
Advertising is no longer about identifying features and highlighting benefits. Consumers are reaching for brands that fit into their everyday lives. Our goal as advertisers is to help the audience visualize our brand fitting seamlessly into their homes, families, and lifestyles.
To show our brands integrated into the target’s lifestyle, our message has to be as authentic as possible. We have to prove that we understand how different and unique their consumer’s lives are. That means taking the risk and incorporating diverse characters, problems, and story lines when we share our brand story. Multicultural thought leaders see life through a different lens and can draw their unique backgrounds, cultures, and knowledge. If we can see the problem or the consumer lifestyle through their eyes, we can become better storytellers for our brand. .
Companies shy away from diversity in their advertising because they consider it risky. In a time where everyone is offended by everything, no one wants to be the controversial brand. I think that’s what makes advertising unique from sources like news and media outlets.
In our industry, diversity is more natural, familiar, is flexible to meet the consumer demand for authenticity. In the news and media however, the only conversations being had about diversity are alarming, painful, high intensity, and very hard to swallow. Instead of authentic, it is controversial. Diversity shouldn’t be controversial. It’s an integral part of our everyday lives, interpersonal relationships, and decisions.
Shying away from diversity creates a barrier between brands, minority audiences, and every other consumer whose lives are rich with diversity. With a brand story exclusive of no one, our companies are one step closer to seamlessly fitting into their audience’s life. Companies that embrace this fact replace audience barriers with consumer relationships.