London Marketing Diversity & Inclusion

Most people think advertising is stuck in a 'London bubble' that doesn't reflect them


By Rebecca Stewart, Trends Editor

August 8, 2018 | 4 min read

Nothing beats a Londoner according to Nike. However, more than half of UK consumers living outwith the capital disagree, saying brands are too London-centric in their advertising.


Nike's 'Nothing Beats a Londoner' drew plaudits from all quarters of the capital / Nike

According to research from media agency UM, 56% of non-Londoners feel that the way they're portrayed in ads just isn't authentic.

57% said that the media and advertising industries were too focused on London. A further 48% believed people working in the sector didn't understand them.

UM interviewed 2,000 people, and in line with the demographic of the UK canvassed the opinion of 86% of people living outside the big smoke.

32% said they thought Northerners weren't shown as often in ads because the people developing the campaigns were catering to their own 'regional bias'.

Nothing beats a Londoner?

The research follows on from Wieden+Kennedy picking up a Cannes Lions Grand Prix for Nike's 'Nothing Beats a Londoner' (formerly 'Nothing Beats a LDNER') campaign.

Focusing on young, competitive Londoners, the ad was hailed by one tabloid as the 'best ad ever made'.

While it drew plaudits from all quarters of the capital, from the kids on street to the mayor of London, some questioned whether the city-focused campaign had a broad enough appeal.

Among them was Andrew Orr, client services director at TRO.

Writing for The Drum earlier this year, Orr pointed out that London was a"natural" choice because of its cultural diversity and the commercial value of its consumers.

By the same token though, he said Mancunians, Brummies and Glaswegians – let alone the smaller towns and cities across this Great Britain – also had pride in their cities.

"It’s undeniable that London is a vibrant and diverse metropolis and we should be rightly proud of celebrating our capital city. At the same time, we believe there is huge opportunity in connecting directly with the rest of the nation, from Aberdeen to Cornwall, in order to produce meaningful work that truly resonates," he added.

Some brands have recently invested in campaigns that seek to champion swathes of the UK.

Cadbury, for instance, has centered its recent ‘There’s a glass and a half in every one’ push around the daily moments of kindness and generosity that happen throughout the UK.

Reflecting the 'fabric of the nation'

With the majority of UK advertising firms headquartered in the capital, Sophia Durrani UM's managing partner said the latest research suggested work coming out of ad land reflected the "bubble" it sits within.

"This is a tension that we need to address. People want authenticity in advertising, and there’s a lot of the country outside London that’s currently feeling hard done-by," she said.

"Brands would do well to remember that alienating vast swathes of the country and ignoring or misrepresenting entire regions is simply bad business. There’s a growing demand for ads to genuinely and positively reflect the fabric of the nation. Actively giving a voice to real people outside the capital is good place to start."

The study is the latest part of a series looking at stereotypes in advertising, across class, sexuality, disability and more.

London Marketing Diversity & Inclusion

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