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How the WFA’s diversity guide plans to get CMOs to ditch creative bias

Active brands in this space include P&G, which has been smashing gender stereotypes with its 'Like A Girl' campaign / P&G

As brands and agencies make more obvious efforts to ensure their advertising is represenitive of the world around them, The World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) has unveiled an open-source guide for marketers which aims to improve diversity and representation throughout the creative process.

The framework seeks to identify gaps in the creative process where bias can creep in and tackle diversity and representation issues at all stages – from briefing to campaign analysis.

How will the guide help marketers?

  • The guide proposes 12 questions that can be used as a ‘litmus’ test at every stage of the process, pulling together key resources that can be used to address gaps and areas of concern.

  • Every stage of the process – from creative briefing to insight and localisation to media placement – is illustrated with brand examples and the guide includes campaigns from WFA members such as AB InBev, Diageo, GSK, IKEA, Mars, Mattel, P&G, Philips and Unilever.

  • The guide encourages marketers to banish stereotypes around gender, race and sexuality from the creative process, reviewing media plans to ensure they’re progressive and ensure test-and-learn audiences are diverse.

  • The new document has been co-developed by members of WFA’s Diversity and Inclusion Task Force, which launched last year, and is led by the WFA’s diversity ambassadors Jerry Daykin, GSK Senior Media Director, and Belinda Smith, chief executive for the Americas at m/Six.

  • The framework will be freely available to everyone in the industry as part of WFA’s ongoing commitment to boosting diversity and inclusion and improving representation globally, and can be downloaded online.

Why it matters

  • The guide comes amid a push from the wider industry to banish stereotypes from their ads and ensure creative diversity on-screen and behind the camera, reflecting the various nuances of race, gender, age and sexuality among other things.

  • Active brands in this space include P&G, Barbie owner Mattel and Unilever. The latter of which spearheads the ‘Unstereotype Alliance’ with the UN and has just recently reaffirmed its commitment to working with more diverse suppliers.

  • GSK’s Daykin, who has been leading the WFA’s initiative as part of the taskforce group on ‘representation in marketing’, said the onus was on marketers to be part of society’s journey in tackling diversity gaps.

  • “Many companies trying to drive this change don’t know where to start, and often the barriers to representative creative come in the form of unconscious bias. This guide aims to highlight some of the simple nudges and critical questions marketers can use to avoid the gaps in representation that these biases can create.”

  • “We can all go on a journey from not considering diverse audiences to fairly representing them, or even purposefully driving action for change. It’s been a great experience to input our GSK best practice into this guide, but also to learn from other task force members.”

  • Smith, who is the WFA’s global diversity ambassador as well as heading up m/Six in the US said WFA members are always for examples or specific tactics they can use to create systemic and holistic change.

  • “This guide is an important and powerful illustration of how we can completely rethink or interrupt a process to ensure we’re living up to our goals and making our industry better with each piece of work,” she added.