Work & Wellbeing Diversity & Inclusion Shutterstock

Global marketers are making headway with improving diversity in campaigns


By Shawn Lim | Reporter, Asia Pacific

October 13, 2021 | 5 min read

Marketers are doing a better job of featuring diverse people in their campaigns, fuelled by major social movements, such as Black Lives Matter and Stop Asian Hate.


65% of marketers agree racial and ethnic diversity is an important factor when targeting campaign audiences

These movements last year drove brands to launch and develop existing anti-racism pledges and research and, according to research, is starting to have an impact.

Nearly two-thirds of global marketers (63%) state these movements significantly impacted content decisions over the last 12 months, according to "DE&I in Marketing: A Global Report by Shutterstock.”

“Our DE&I in Marketing study encompasses the events of the last year and a half and how these monumental moments have impacted how diversity is valued and prioritized in brand content decisions,” said Meeckel Beecher, global head of diversity, equity, and inclusion at Shutterstock.

“Despite the widespread lockdowns, content creation excelled, and the resilience of creativity has prevailed. There is no denying the world’s media has paid more attention than ever before to cultural movements and raising much-needed awareness, however, we wanted to understand to what extent this has been truly mirrored in content choices. Upholding values of diversity, inclusivity, representation, and respect has never been more important, or more urgent.”

He added: “Launching this Global Diversity Awareness Month, our report highlights that there is more work to be done, and we’re looking forward to collaborating with our partners to do the work. It’s positive to note that people are listening, and our mission at Shutterstock continues to be ensuring all creative content represents the diverse global community.”

What does the report find?

  • 65% of marketers agree racial and ethnic diversity is an important factor when targeting campaign audiences.

  • However, the results also show that 44% of those surveyed believe it can be difficult to reflect their brand with racial and ethnic diversity visually.

  • 37% of global marketers say their ability to source diverse content has been significantly impacted due to travel restrictions.

  • A quarter of marketers (25%) state they have been unable to localize content for individual markets. This has pushed more than one in six (17%) global marketers to violate lockdown restrictions – risking the health and legal implications – to continue to create diverse content.

  • More than a third (34%) of global marketers believe that accurately representing the world we live in is the most important objective for content used in marketing campaigns.

  • There is more of a desire for brands to effectively represent the world we live in over what their brand's purpose is (34% vs. 33%).

  • Marketers state accurate representation is the top reason behind increasing their usage of content that features same-sex couples (64%), racially diverse models (68%), people with disabilities (60%), and transgender models (62%).

  • 75% of marketers understand the importance of this content being created authentically by the same audience it intends to reach.

  • Just under half (41%) of global respondents said they focus their efforts more specifically on their company ideology, compared to just 32% who look to reflect the political landscape.

  • More than a quarter (26%) aim for their campaign creative to oppose the political landscape, demonstrating the increasing rise of brands making their stand to social issues, establishing their voice.

  • Less than a third (31%) of heads of DE&I hires globally are involved in all marketing decisions, with 14% not being involved at all—instead only supporting the HR function.

  • Content that features females in campaigns has seen the biggest growth globally over the last 12 months (28%), with the second most popular content increase featuring racially diverse models (26%).

  • 77% of global marketers say they are expected to use more diverse representation in their campaigns. 76% globally say there is still room for growth.

  • 74% of marketers globally state using more diverse content helps a brand’s reputation.

Work & Wellbeing Diversity & Inclusion Shutterstock

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