A survey of major advertising companies reveals they are putting diversity above market relevance by over-representing ethnic minorities and gay couples to avoid being labelled racist and homophobic.
A survey of 500 advertisers by Shutterstock Inc found that companies are shying away from adverts showing white people or straight couples, reports The Times.
More than one-third of advertisers told researchers they made the conscious decision over the past year, saying the approach was adopted to “prevent perceived discrimination”.
An overwhelming majority admitted using images or producing commercials of gay couples and non-traditional families even if doing so did not fit with their brand.
— Lee (@missisles1980) January 30, 2017
The study found almost half of marketing departments had increased their use of ‘racially diverse’ images and one-third increased their use of homosexual couples.
Such ads diverging from straight, white consumers over the past few years include the British banking group Lloyds’ “he said yes” commercial featuring one man proposing marriage to another man.
— Luis Cevallos (@CevallosL7) April 25, 2017
In the United States, similar campaigns were undertaken by the jewellers Tiffany with their “will you?” gay proposal ad and department store giant Macy’s ran a same-sex couple “I do” campaign to push their wedding list services.
Nordstrom’s 2015 Christmas commercial also featured a gay couple.
— Jon Taylor Carter (@jontaylorcarter) December 10, 2015
According to an Office of National Statistics study on sexuality in 2015, just 1.7 per cent of the UK’s population identify themselves as lesbian, gay, or bisexual. Likewise, according to a 2012 Gallup Poll, 3.4 per cent of American adults consider themselves to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.
Teens have also been targeted with transgender reality figure Jazz Jennings becoming the face of Johnson & Johnson’s Clean & Clear skin products in 2015.
Half of the advertisers surveyed said they were using fewer white people because they no longer represented “modern society”. The Times noted that McDonald’s is running advertisements with fewer white people, and research from Lloyds Bank found one in five adverts featured people from an ethnic minority group.
However, 2011 census data shows that 87 per cent of Britons are white, seven per cent are Asian (including Chinese), and those of African descent represent three per cent of the population (with two per cent “mixed”, one per cent “other”).