Marketing World Professional Services

Diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance

By Francesca Hills |



The Drum Network article

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September 23, 2020 | 5 min read

OMD EMEA (part of Omnicom Media Group) has launched Intentional Inclusion Planning, the result of a two-year process that has seen clients adopt a diverse planning approach, which is now being scaled across the agency’s 300+employees and 25 clients, following successful testing with leading brands.

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Diversity and inclusion may be talked about in media but actually making it happen has been elusive, especially when it comes to maximising brand and client value. At OMD we set out to change this. In 2018 we began working with a small number of clients on diversifying their communication, and today we are shifting from diverse planning to Intentional Inclusion through our OMD Design process. We know there has always been a business case. Consumers who perceive ads as relevant to them are 2.7 times more likely to purchase for the first time, 50% more likely to repurchase from a brand they bought in the past and add a whopping 40% more to their basket at checkout.

What is also clear is having a business case is not enough to change behaviour. Many D&I initiatives don't work in the long term; people adopt behaviour because they are told to but backslide once the focus is off or the sponsor moves on.

So what should you do?

We looked at the research, particularly in behavioural science, and it's clear when the focus is on inclusion, not just diversity, there's more chance of obtaining the business value but also being considered an authentic brand. It's also evident that when you nudge people towards the right behaviour rather than telling them what to do, there is more long-term success. People begin to adopt new capabilities which stick when they are part of the way we work, not an add on.

Following the science, we've set to elevate those elements in our OMD Design process to diversify our media planning and to nudge inclusive behaviour at every stage from insight and strategy, through planning, activation, creation and measurement, moving us on from diverse planning to Intentional Inclusion. This meant reassessing existing audiences to identify our growth audience. We then ran stronger and better represented empathy workshops to draw out real and inclusive consumer insights for our new audience.

Once we had our insights, we were able to move to a more inclusive planning approach - using more diverse titles and media touchpoints as well as working with publishers to unblock safe sites and create more relevant content. This process is a step change in the way we view our end-to-end planning process. With this shift, we helped one of our lead clients move from a broad and subsequently diverse audience to a more relevant and inclusive one. This approach led to a 21% increase in growth opportunity, which in turn helped them surpass business objectives that quarter.

At each stage, our design process uses identified capabilities to tease out the right inclusive approach for the client.

Having run this since 2018, we've learnt a lot and continue to tweak the process and capabilities as we learn. For example, we have appointed champions for each stage who monitor our learning, share best practice, train others and nudge the right behaviour across teams. We don't want to stop here, as an agency we have committed to continuously advance and strengthen our Intentional Inclusion efforts through our empathy program; commissioning new research and working with partners to better our consumer understanding which falls at the heart of our craft .

This is just the latest step in the agency’s commitment to put inclusivity and belonging at the heart of its business through the steering group, OMD RED. Established in 2018 by chief people officer, Gina Ramson-Williams, OMD RED is a way to anchor Inclusion & Belonging efforts within recruitment, engagement & development for all staff. Initiatives such as diverse interviewing panels, educative webinars and micro-aggression training, are examples of steps being taken within this space, to ensure inclusivity is felt at every stage of the employee experience.

Craft@OMD RED is the next iteration that takes our passion for inclusivity into the work we are doing for our clients.

Francesca Hills, managing partner and Leah Levenson, account director at OMD EMEA and founding members of Craft@OMDRed, said: "As two of the champions of this initiative across the agency we couldn't be more excited to see this type of work really take off in 2020. Having started these conversations in 2018 with a small number of clients we're seeing more and more of the right questions being asked across both our clients and the talent in our business. It's great to see and we hope to keep up the momentum in 2021."

And for our clients, we've been able to build new audiences and developed innovative media craft to help target them. We've been working on this initiative with a number of our clients, big and small, local and global and we've set ourselves a target to diversify all our clients' communication to be Intentionally Inclusive by 2021. There has never been a more important time, both culturally and financially, to be delivering inclusive communication across all sectors.

Francesca Hills, managing partner at OMD, and co-authored by Leah Levenson, associate director.

Marketing World Professional Services

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