Work needs to be done to combat the lack of diversity in media and advertising, but before we go to battle with the corporations and powers that be, there needs to be a discussion.
It’s time for brands to take responsibility for their actions or lack thereof regarding the difficulties POC, LGBTQ, and the BAME communities have faced when it comes to appropriate representation in the media.
Throughout history, brands have proven that there is a disconnect. Now, in order to push the culture forward, we are seeing stereotypes challenged and an industry tackling diversity head-on in both serious and humorous ways.
At this point, it’s either big brands catch on or get lost in the mix of whackness. The proof is shown in an extensive study Getty Images put out earlier this year.
The data revealed that image searches for ‘LGBTQ’ swelled, seeing an 809 percent increase along with searches for ‘Multi-ethnic family’ up 385 percent and ‘Cultural Diversity’ up 252 percent.
In an attempt to educate the next generation in line about these struggles and how we can progress towards a world that is more accepting of all kinds, Getty Images led a fireside discussion focused around the need for more inclusive imagery and representation in the media and society overall.
The conversation led by Getty Images’ Head of Creative Research for the Americas, Tristen Norman was held at Arlo’s Soho Studios. Creative Director of Razorfish John Antoniello and CMO of DoSomething, Carrie Bloxson, joined Norman in the conversation.
Getty Images, Antoniello, and Bloxson have BEEN flexing for the multicultural community and their innovative approach towards media has proven itself time and time again.
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Antoniello’s 13 years of experience in leading digital marketing and platform efforts have allowed him to work on Dove’s Dear Media, He For She’s digital platform, and Uniqlo’s ‘Made For All’ campaign.
Bloxson, on the other hand, focuses on the youth as DoSomething’s main mission is to engage with young people to be advocates for change.
Diving right into the fountain of youth and culture, her work with the NPO promises to leave a mark on society.
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As a global community, we have to look at diversity as more than just what we see visually. So, how do we champion diversity in the media and get Gen-Z to notice? Bloxson explained how. She said,
“For this particular generation, diversity goes beyond the parameters of just race and ethnicity. For example, there is diversity in sexuality, backgrounds, famalies, abilities, and lifestyle. We also know that Gen-Z is particularly gender controlled in just about everything. Including clothing, style, conversation, and bathroom choice. They have a tendency to reject gender labels when presented with that choice. They really don’t like things that are gender specific. In terms of support we know young people are more likely to get involved if they see somebody like them in a campaign, an image, or an advertisement… This is a generation that has the power and the ability to effect policy and change in a deeper and more meaningful way than just buying product.”
Real talk, Gen-Z is more likely to relate with brands that have a diverse message. Brands better recognize as Bloxson noted because the new generation is expected to make up half the population in 2020, will have an immense amount of buying power, and influence over household spending.
Still, the elephant in the room, when it comes to a discussion about diverse inclusion in the media, was pointed out by Norman. She expressed that we need to take a “giant leap back into history” and remember that this country was founded on the oppression and subjugation of entire groups of people based on the color of their skin.
This transition into a better world and influencing comes from a place where it was hard for anyone who wasn’t “white” to progress. The blockades went beyond the legislation that was put in place to prevent us from advancing but in fact, could be seen in the media itself.
“When we talk about diversity it’s not just about making good. It’s the larger context that we are trying to solve for. All of the stereotypes that are negative… Until we recognize and acknowledge that the role that we play and how big of an impact that it’s made on our culture and society… Then honestly, ‘What are we doing here, said Norman”
Although this was a very positive discussion the thought of ‘anti-diversity’ media tactics came to mind. Just take a look at this year – coolest monkey in the jungle and all. Is there a way that brands could intentionally be engaging consumers for clicks by using offensive media?
One thing that the panel addressed was going to your “sherpas” and having the right team in place to avoid these bumps in the road. It’s important that we make sure that behind corporation doors that everyone is represented. Anotniello addressed the issue. He said,
“If brands are doing that, it’s such a dark reality that I don’t even want to face it… In theory, there is a lot of shady business that goes on in advertising. So I wouldn’t put that out of the realm of possibility, but I think that just makes me want to double down in making sure the initiatives that we do and the work that we do, it’s all the more imperative to keep the needle pointed in the right direction.”
Take note of the works of Getty Images, Bloxson, and Antoniello are doing to change the conversation. With that said let’s keep the culture moving forward because to be honest, we have no choice.