What inclusive advertising looks like for the LGBTQ+ community
"You can affect change no matter which part of the hierarchy you are."Ari Humirang, Reception Manager, Havas UK & Chair of Havas Pride
What makes for inclusive advertising? In our constant pursuit of more inclusion in our industry, the psLondon team have attended many events, webinars and talks on the topic. Most notable was our recent attendance at Outvertising Live 2022 to gain further insight into inclusive advertising for the LGBTQIA+ community.
We wanted to further expand our knowledge about how to make marketing more inclusive, AND we were also out in force to support our very own Kendra Rogers, Head of Insight & Strategy, who took the stage at Meta’s head office alongside YouGov’s Head of UK/IE Product Team, Gregory Dagger and presented some interesting statistics from the Outvertising Consumer Report.
The day featured some of the most impactful champions of inclusivity and advertising, with brilliant talks from keynote speakers Nancy Kelley on The Power of Community and Annette King on The Power of Industry and a range of thought-provoking panels. We came away with powerful thought-starters and findings to drive forward inclusive advertising, some of which we’ll share with you today.
1. Insight is key to inclusive advertising
Greg and Kendra spoke about the economic footprint of the LGBTQIA+ community – as being not just LGBTQIA+ people, but also their friends, family, co-workers and allies. This means that the economic impact that the queer community has should not be understated. They shared some incredible stats that agencies and brands would be wise to have in their back pocket.
As we know, having audience insight and key metrics are some of the most important factors when developing effective marketing campaigns. When it comes to inclusivity, they're even more valuable as they show you the current landscape for marginalised communities and set the foundation for shaping societal change.
Unfortunately at present, YouGov doesn’t have the data necessary to report on the Trans community but that information will be included in the larger report, coming out in Spring 2023, which we are looking forward to digesting.
Luckily, YouGov’s Profiles tool allows for an incredibly detailed understanding of Britain’s LGB community. Here’s a breakdown of some of the initial insights from the report that is due out in 2023:
- The estimated number of LGBTQ+ adults living in the UK is 7 million
- 52% of the LGB population is under the age of 35
- ¼ of Britons place themselves in between completely heterosexual and homosexual
- A previous study conducted by YouGov, builds on the understanding of sexuality as a spectrum. YouGov asked Britons where they would place themselves on the Kinsey scale of 0 to 6, where 0 is completely heterosexual and 6 is completely homosexual.
- It was suggested that while we can’t say for certain, you might infer that the increase in identification as bisexual could be indicative of the shift away from definitive categorisations of hetero- or homosexual, explained by the expanding understanding of sexuality’s fluidity and its existence on a spectrum.
Interestingly, young adults aged 18-24 in 2019 are half as likely to identify as gay or lesbian in comparison to 2015, however, in 2019, the same age group are 8 times more likely to identify as Bisexual compared to 2015.
- 86% of the LGB community lives in urban areas
- From a political perspective, this community lean more towards the left
- LGB people are active consumers of the same brands as the general public, but with a few interesting diversions, overindexing in brands such as preferred brands including Diet Coke, Schweppes, Odeon, Android, Samsung and iPhone
- Lesbians over-indexed on being active consumers of specific brands including Vauxhall, eBay, Irn bru and AirBnB
- In comparison to straight men, Gay men over-indexed as consumers from TFL, Apple music, Deliveroo and Pizza Hut
- Bisexual people compared with people who identified as straight are significantly higher users of Spotify, Reddit, Pokemon and Uber
There is huge value in this type of information, because from them we can uncover insights that help to uncover where we currently are in society. This not only helps to direct, target and measure your brand’s campaigns but, in this case, it helps to accurately embed inclusivity in your communications.
As Kendra Rogers, our Head of Strategy put it, these are the brilliant insights that we can use to build campaigns that truly resonate.
2. Inclusivity is a critical tool for unlocking champions across generations
In the 2020 Census, the ONS reported that 8% of all young people aged 16-24 now identify as LGB, and a further 1.4% identifying as ‘Other’ (meaning those who identify as LGBTQ, but not Lesbian, Gay or Bisexual, such as Trans, Pansexual and Demisexual). [i] With such a range of sexual expressions being so prevalent within Gen Z, it highlights the need for more complex and nuanced representation within advertising and marketing, especially when targeting youth audiences.
These findings also amplify the influence Gen Z possess to drive progress in society, and across all marketing categories and channels. In Higher Education for example, our research has shown that the expectations of universities by students are set by the consumer brands they engage with [ii]. By encouraging the brands they consume on a daily basis to be more inclusive and progressive in their brand communications, this in turn will drive progress in many other realms of youth marketing as well.
So, what does this mean for inclusive advertising?
- You can embed inclusivity through different generations by curating clearer messages catered to the age group you are communicating to and where.
- By utilising both demographic data and qualitative research of certain marginalised groups, you can understand how to communicate with/ listen to them, recognise their online and offline behaviours and nurture them.
- As with all audiences, if you show that you are trying to truly understand your audience, they’ll feel seen. This could help you build a community of brand champions across the LGBTQIA+ spectrum.
3. The ABC’s and Doe-Rae-Mi’s of LGBTQIA+ Inclusive Advertising
Speaking of brand champions and loyalists, in order to retain or increase brand loyalty, consider inclusivity in your strategy. This is not about ticking a box, but rather understanding why your brand needs to be part of the conversation, before deciding on the how. And when you’ve landed on the why, the how must come from the community itself. Consult your LGBTQIA+ employees and customers to ensure the ideas are authentic and sourced from lived experience (and recognise the value of having this consultative insight!).
"If you have people with lived experience in your organisation that can come together in a safe space, that can drive change, I think that’s important. With the support of leadership, and HR, it’s fundamentally important to really drive strategic and cultural change." Caroline Forbes, Clear Channel
During Jerry Daykin’s wonderful panel we learned that creating an inclusive internal process enables brands to have the same quality of representation reflected in their outputs, which means that the conversation around inclusivity should start when the project starts… during the briefing and insight-gathering phases. It’s not enough just to brief a copywriter or casting director at the production stage, true inclusive creativity has to start at the very beginning (a very good place to start!).
Brand loyalty also comes from the purpose and clarity of your campaigns. Think about what your goals are, and who exactly you want to engage with – be specific. Having a clear understanding of who your audiences are and what’s going on in their worlds is incredibly important – especially if you’re trying to attract a wider, more diverse audience. Being intentional about who you speak to in the insight gathering stage will be critical. Here at psLondon, we make sure that every client’s brand or campaign is based on sound insight and a clear strategy that aligns with their business goals. And, if you don’t have a business goal that is focused on increasing your brand's accessibility to a wider audience pool, maybe this is your sign to think again?
5. Allies belong at the table too
"It starts with the little big things. For example, using our pronouns. It invites other people to feel comfortable to do the same and it is voluntary so why wouldn’t everyone use it."Annette King, CEO, Publicis Groupe UK
Allyship comes in many forms, both from individuals and organisations. Both are equally powerful when it comes to shifting the conversation and driving progress in society – especially through brand communications, and even more so when the conversation feels uncomfortable. But before we look at how we can shift the dial on inclusion in advertising and marketing, we need to consider what it is currently like to be LGBTQIA+ in the UK and globally.
The picture is somewhat bleak when we consider the current state of affairs for LGBTQ people in the UK. With homophobic hate crimes up by 42% in the last year and transphobic hate crimes up a staggering 56%, something needs to be done[iii]. As communications professionals, we know the media narrative is incredibly powerful when it comes to the national conversation on marginalised communities. And, as 50% of news outlets revenue comes from advertising, as marketers, we have such power to drive forward the right conversations about LGBTQIA+ people. Because ultimately news outlets are driven by their bottom line, and that’s where marketers have the chance for impact.
In addition to thinking about who you work with, consider what you do internally. Is your business representative? What impact are you making internally? What are the small steps you can take to contribute to a more inclusive? How are you embedding inclusivity beyond Pride?
If you’d like to know more about how to shift the narrative by embedding inclusion in your brand communications, download our step-by-step guide to help you through the process.
- [i] Office for National Statistics, Sexual Orientation, UK 2020 (2021) - https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/culturalidentity/sexuality/bulletins/sexualidentityuk/2020
- [ii]psLondon, Why Gen Z is seeking more savvy university brands(2022) - https://www.pslondon.co.uk/thoughts/why-gen-z-is-seeking-more-savvy-university-brands
- [iii] Home Office, Official Statistics Hate crime, England and Wales, 2021 to 2022 - https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/hate-crime-england-and-wales-2021-to-2022/hate-crime-england-and-wales-2021-to-2022