Inclusive marketing is more than just a buzzword. Brands who embrace diversity in their campaigns, content, and hiring practices are representing a wide range of races, genders, orientations, and abilities, to name a few things. More than ever before, consumers are holding brands accountable to make key marketing changes to showcase different faces and voices. The brands who are the most successful are committed to representing real people consistently in their ads, on their websites, and within their organizations.
Check out how these four brands are embracing diversity in their content and marketing campaigns.
ThirdLove, which launched in 2013, is a lingerie company created in response to the frustration the co-founders (and countless other women) felt when trying to find bras that fit real bodies. Using measurements from millions of real women instead of industry size templates, the brand created a line of bras with 78 different sizes including half cup sizes.
Not only does ThirdLove create a product that’s made for real women’s bodies, it also offers a wide range of “nude” shades to offer options for more skin tones. From the product photos on the website to ad campaigns, ThirdLove highlights real women with diverse backgrounds, body types, and ages. In the summer of 2020, ThirdLove announced The TL Effect, an initiative created to support businesses led by women of color through mentorship and monetary grants. A leader to watch in inclusive marketing, this brand not only tackled representation but reflected their diversity-related goals authentically through engaging with a target community.
As one of the most recognized brand names of all time, not just in sportswear and equipment, Nike’s recent campaigns have amplified the voices of underrepresented communities. The brand created a series of ads under a campaign called “Until We All Win” to highlight the stories of indigenous peoples and LGBTQIA+ athletes. The campaign’s goal is “to unite and inspire people to take action in their communities” using the power of sport.
The brand has a history of speaking out in support of causes that reflect their values. In 2017, Nike was recognized for introducing a hijab designed expressly for Muslim women athletes, and in 2019, the brand launched a new line of swimwear also designed for women who wear a hijab. In addition to Nike’s ad campaigns, the sportswear brand uses diverse models on their site and features a wide range of voices and backgrounds on social media.
Dove is one of the brands under the umbrella of multinational consumer goods company Unilever. In the last few years, Unilever has committed to more diversity in its marketing with a global push for more progressive representations of women in its ads. Since 2016, Unilever has tested 1,500 ads to identify stereotypes around gender and ethnicity to highlight where it needed to make changes.
Dove’s Real Beauty campaign launched in 2004 and continues to run over a decade later. The campaign features “real women, never models” and shows women of different ages, body types, and ethnicities through user-generated content (UGC). The women featured in the campaigns approve all the images, and Dove does not manipulate or distort any of the images. Dove launched its line of men’s products in 2010 and has adapted its ads over the years to combat the typical hyper-masculine tone of men’s products. Since then, Dove’s ads focus on breaking the cultural norms and stereotypes that pervade marketing for men’s products.
Aerie, a sub-brand of American Eagle Outfitters, is a lingerie and lifestyle retailer that has made waves over the past several years with its inclusive advertising. The brand’s #AerieREAL campaign, which committed to stopping editing photos of its models, launched in 2014. Since then, Aerie has focused on authentically representing real women who come from a wide range of experiences, including women with disabilities.
Aerie has powerfully leveraged its community by creating a unique brand ambassador program. Aerie’s brand ambassadors, known as Role Models, are real women who represent issues and social causes that are important to the Aerie community and reflect the Aerie brand. Aerie has involved women from the disability community in their campaigns with both celebrity spokespeople and Role Models. Going beyond ads, Aerie’s site content features women in wheelchairs, women with insulin pumps, and women with ostomy bags along with a wide range of body types, races, and ethnicities.
Customers are holding brands accountable for their work around diversity and inclusion, a mindset that will only continue to garner support. Brands who commit to representing diverse faces, voices, experiences, and abilities authentically help promote equality and respond to their customers’ desire to see real people. This commitment also has a positive impact on the business. 61% of Americans believe diversity in advertising is important, and 38% are more likely to trust a brand that shows diversity in their ads.
Brands who want to highlight underrepresented groups must prioritize building relationships with diverse creators, models, and spokespeople, as well as their existing brand community. Include a wide range of voices and experiences in ads, on social media, and in product images. Be authentic, embrace diversity in content across brand platforms and channels, and recognize where there are gaps. Your brand can then focus on making changes that last and promote a culture of inclusion.