You Can't Spell Advertisement Without Diverse
By Johnathan Folino
It may not have occurred to you at all, or maybe you typically don’t pay attention to these details. When it comes to advertising, you may find that the key message is catered to appeal to you, and individuals like you. Many of us want the new iPhone. With its edge-to-edge display, faster processor, and better visuals, any person whose keen on change will find themselves yearning for the next best thing.
Obviously here, Apple is trying to appeal to their current iPhone users, as well as non-iPhone users to get them to make the switch to their brand. Statista reported in 2016 that 43.5% of 208.6 million smartphone users in the United States own an iPhone. Have you ever paid attention to the individual(s) chosen to represent their estimated 90 million users?
Apple has been a leader of diversity in recent years, emphasizing the need to include all audiences, regardless of race, gender, sexuality, and other identifiable factors. Why is this important? Because there are more people than just white males who use these products.
This issue isn’t prevalent in only the consumer electronics industry, we see it every day. Tarte Cosmetics debuted their new Shape Tape Foundation this past winter, with more than half of their initial launch colors favoring those of white skin tones. We also see it regarding sexuality when heterosexual couple is used to portray a happy family or relationship. Let’s not forget that many other reputable brands and companies are also aware of this issue and are actively making decisions to be more diverse in their advertising campaigns.
What Can I Do?
As a society that prides itself on its advancements and accomplishments, our policies on diversity and inclusion has seemed to stagnate for some time. Though not all these problems can simply be rectified, we ourselves can make positive change.
When searching for an image or person to represent your brand or company, assess what kind of individuals will be attracted to the product or service. From there, think about the first option that comes to mind. Take a moment to think about the vast market you’re appealing to, and how these individuals come from multiple backgrounds. Choosing a white male is no longer the viable option. A good rule of thumb is to never initially choose someone who reminds you of yourself. Think about the rest of your team, hopefully, your organization is comprised of individuals who identify in different ways: male, female, white, black, Hispanic, gay, lesbian, straight, etc. Use all these terms when searching for your next model.
There are certain times when these diversifying factors do come into play, and they must be called upon appropriately in representation. For example, if the company is offering a product that’s meant to serve gay men, it’s obvious you wouldn’t use a heterosexual or lesbian couple to represent it. However, you can consider that not all gay couples are composed of two white men, and that there are many multi-racial gay couples as well who deserve just as much attention and care as their white counterparts.
As future communicators, it’s our job to continue promoting diversity and inclusion, and to ensure that all individuals are provided equal opportunities and representation in the market. Starting now, we can begin making the conscious effort to not always go with the first idea that comes to our mind, and to consider the rest of the people around us. Regardless of our own background, there’s another individual out there who’s different than us and deserves the same opportunity to be represented fairly and equally.