A Target Ad Celebrating Inclusion And Representation Hits The Bullseye
A lot of advertising isn’t wrong. It’s just incomplete. Ads often confine brands to an irrelevant corner of the culture. They fail to advocate for a dialogue with customers. Often, the problem with advertising is that it yields to stereotypes or a stilted view of society and it lacks authenticity. Perhaps no other issue that Madison Avenue sidestaps more is the issue of inclusion and representation in ads.
This is holding brands back. Research shows that 70% of Millennials are more likely to choose one brand over another if that brand demonstrates inclusion and diversity in its advertising. Yet, anyone watching a couple of hours of TV commercials couldn’t but notice that marketers are slow to response to these findings. Brands insist on the traditional, old-fashion depiction of families and individuals in ads.
The power of relevancy and diversity in advertising was driven home by this poignant moment: Two-year old Oliver Garza-Pena went on shopping at Target with his mom when something stopped him “dead in his tracks”, according to his mother. Oliver, or “Ollie” as he’s called, saw an ad featuring a boy that looked just like himself. The boy was in a wheelchair. As is Oliver.
Goosebumps. Such a powerful image! Experiential marketing at its best. Great job, Target!
Ollie’s mom, Demi Garza-Pena, snapped the photo of her son, staring up at the Target ad. “He just stared at it in awe! He recognized another boy like him, smiling and laughing on a display at Target,” Garza-Pena wrote on Facebook. “Oliver sees kids every day, but he never gets to see kids like him,” her post continued.
The ad itself is incredibly inspiring and powerful because it straightforwardly normalizes just how we look at handicapped people. It does so simply and forcefully. It doesn’t make an issue of featuring a handicapped model and it avoids boasting. In fact, it’s unexceptional attitude is what makes it exceptionally powerful.
Being associated with inclusive and diverse images elevates brands. And, it also enables them to influence communities for the better. I believe that marketing must make use of its power to shape the world we live in. It’s the role of great brands to promote and provoke social change at scale.
Inclusion has to be the essence of brands – it can’t be a gimmick. This means casting a mix of models from all backgrounds, education, sexual orientation, disability and age in its communications.
Providing visibility to all groups is a major step in making social progress. Marketers should be shifting their attitudes and adopting representational images, to represent modern day society. Choosing images that are relatable to diverse groups will benefit their brand’s reputation. Striking a chord with consumers is no longer about serving them images of perfection, especially as social media has helped change how people view their images. Consumers prefer images that accurately portray the world around them, as opposed to a perfected version of the world offered by marketers.
Some brands are catching on to that notion, but there’s still so much more room for growth, especially when it comes to using more diverse images. In fact, more than 91% agree there’s more work to be done.
This is long overdue. Marketers should make 2020 the year that their brand embraces inclusivity, representation and diversity.