Flexing the influence and reach of its multinational consumer company, ahead of Pride next month, Procter and Gamble (P&G) has spoken up about the need to increase LGBT+ visibility in advertising and released a fresh spot that acts as a stark reminder that there is still considerable ground to be made.
Yesterday (27 May) it released the findings of its first-ever ‘LGBT+ Inclusion in Advertising and Media’ study alongside its strategic partner, Glaad.
Conducted online between November and December 2019, the study questioned 2031 non-LGBT+ US citizens across America, over the age of 18. It measured how non-LGBT+ Americans respond to LGBT+ representation in television, films, and ads.
"We decided to conduct this study with Glaad because we wanted to better understand the impact of LGBT+ representation of advertising," shares Brent Miller, P&G associate director, global LGBT+ equality.
"And the report a first step for us to get a deeper understanding of the dynamics within the marketplace. As we update our LGBT+ commitments, we want to define the best practices and standards for LGBT+ inclusion and bring other companies with us," he continues. "Up to this point, there has been fairly limited work done among the industry to make this happen."
The report found that non-LGBT+ consumers who are exposed to queer people in the media are more likely to be accepting and supportive of their issues. 80% of respondents of those exposed said they were supportive of equal rights for LGBT+ people when compared to the respondents who had not recently seen LGBT+ people in the media (70%).
It also claimed media exposure makes people more comfortable with LGBT+ people in their daily lives, with 72% of respondents claiming to be comfortable learning a family member was LGBT+, compared to those who had not been exposed (66%).
The respondents also generally looked favourably at brands that use queer people in their advertising, with 80% of respondents finding it reflects that the company is making a statement about the importance of recognizing LGBTQ people.
“If you were to grade the advertising industry right now [in terms of accurate portrayal and visibility of the LGBT+ community] it would be an incomplete grade... class is not over yet,” insists P&G’s brand boss, Marc Pritchard. “The industry - including P&G - has a lot of work to do. It’s only been the last few years that we’ve begun to actively get going on this.”
To assist its mission to increase LGBT+ inclusion, P&G has today (28 May) released the last film in its series with CNN's Great Big Story - titled 'They Will See You.'
In the film, Glaad, LGBT+ consumers and members of the Trans Chorus of Los Angeles discuss why representation in advertising and media matters, to showcase the impact that inclusion can have on local communities and how global brands can increase the visibility of marginalized people everywhere.
In June last year, P&G unveiled 'Out of the Shadows' another short-film in the series, that detailed the challenges faced by a group of LGBT+ former and current employees, who banded together in the early 90s to fight for equality in their workplace.
"The films are grounded in human insight. The real-life experiences of individuals is very difficult to tell that in a short format," explains Miller on P&G's decision to create a series of short films. "We've gone for the film format because it helps us bring to life different dynamics to help people better understand the community by dimensionalizing the impact of representation."
In his 38 years at P&G, Pritchard notes that he has received 'heat' over the years for tackling LGBT+ issues - but admits the resistance is starting to wear off.
“When you get external heat, you literally get groups who are threatening to boycott, and that starts to really affect you,” he explains. “We finally got to the point where we said - we may get boycotted, but we're moving forward because it's the right thing to do. And over time those threats dissipate, you end up realizing it's actually good for business.”
After "getting your house in order and shifting mindsets", Pritchard says ensuring P&G has the right insights can be the toughest part of all. “You've got to take the time and make sure your agency partners and our marketing teams are diverse. You've got to make sure you're sensitive. We spend a lot of time with Sarah Kate Ellis (Glaad president and chief exec) and with people like Michael Chanak (ex-P&G LGBT+ activist) who say here is something you should be thinking about. We go to and ask what you going to think - is this reflecting an accurate portrayal?”
For more than a year, P&G has been strategic partners with Glaad, which it says has helping to drive responsible LGBT+ inclusion across the advertising industry as a force for good.
Its first official partnership with Glaad occurred last year, who teamed up on Pantene’s 'Don’t Hate Me Because I’m BeautifuLGBTQ+'campaign, that featured a range of people within the LGBT+ community and their own unique stories of transformation.
And at the end of 2019, it partnered with Glaad again on Pantene’s Home for the Holidays' ad, which featured members of the Trans Chorus of LA.
After hitting headlines in January 2019, over its toxic masculinity ad, P&G was lauded for its Gillette ad that embraced and promoted inclusive representations of gender in #MyBestSelf campaign.
Growing up I was always trying to figure out what kind of man I wanted to become, and I'm still trying to figure out what kind of man that I want to become. I always knew I was different I didn't know that there was a term for the type of person that I was.
The ad featured a young, black transgender man shaving with his dad, and showcased a diverse group of trans people speaking about the importance of hair to them.