Work & Wellbeing Marketing & the Marginalized WPP

Queer media has become mainstay, but less than half of LGBTQ+ youth feel represented

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By Ellen Ormesher | Senior Reporter

December 1, 2022 | 5 min read

The latest research by WPP reveals that queer media has universal appeal among 18-24-year-olds, but just 38% that seek it out are satisfied with the representation of the LGBTQ+ community.

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‘Beyond the Rainbow’ is a global insights study on LGBTQ+ marketing and its future / The Drum

‘Beyond the Rainbow’ is a global insights study on LGBTQ+ marketing and its future. The study surveyed 7,500 LGBTQ+ and non-LGBTQ+ people in the US, UK and Canada to better understand their perceptions and experiences of viewing LGBTQ+ identities in media and advertising.

Spearheaded by an all-queer team from WPP Unite – with representation from BCW, Choreograph, Hill+Knowlton Strategies, Hogarth, Landor & Fitch, EssenceMediacom, The&Partnership, VMLY&R and Wavemaker – the results have left industry leaders calling for more authentic representation of LGBTQ+ identities in advertising, and advocating for long-term support beyond Pride month.

Michael Houston, president of WPP in the US, said: “In a world where the LGBTQ+ community continues to face discrimination and violent attacks – both in the workplace and in life – the power that our industry has to create change should not be underestimated.

“WPP has a responsibility to educate and empower our people, our clients and our allies to positively and meaningfully influence the cultural representation of the LGBTQ+ community through marketing, advertising and communications. Right now is an incredible moment and opportunity for brands around the world to use their influence to impact society for good.”

What did the study reveal?

  • Among young people, queer media has become mainstream: 93% of LGBTQ+ 18-24-year-olds and 85% of non-LGBTQ+ 18-24-year-olds actively seek out queer media, proving its universal appeal

  • Despite widespread appeal, the quality and quantity of queer media needs improvement: Just 38% of those who seek out queer content are satisfied with the way LGBTQ+ people are represented, and two out of three LGBTQ+ people want to see more queer representation

  • More than half of LGBTQ+ people are still not completely out at work: Only 40% are completely open about their sexuality with colleagues, while 50% are open about their gender identity

  • There’s an income gap when it comes to being out at work: Those on the highest incomes were 37% more likely to be completely open at work than those on the lowest incomes

  • The annual change of logo may be where communications start but shouldn’t end: 52% of LGBTQ+ people told WPP that they do like it when brands change their logos to the rainbow flag colors during Pride month. However, there’s a clear desire for more year-round support, as three out of four LGBTQ+ people and half of non-LGBTQ+ people think brands should do more to support LGBTQ+ people outside of Pride month

​Speaking on the results, David Adamson, founder and UK co-chair for WPP Unite, said: “Our goal in launching Beyond the Rainbow is to help shed light on opportunities to create inclusivity and broader acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community beyond just Pride month. As more people identify under the LGBTQ+ umbrella, being genuine and inclusive in everything we do is more crucial than ever for brands to be relevant. At WPP, we can help advise on the best approach for inclusivity and representation, reflective of today’s changing culture.”

Work & Wellbeing Marketing & the Marginalized WPP

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