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Marketing Diversity & Inclusion

Reflecting DE&I in brand content is only becoming more important

By Clare Roberts, Head of marketing



The Drum Network article

This content is produced by The Drum Network, a paid-for membership club for CEOs and their agencies who want to share their expertise and grow their business.

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November 28, 2023 | 5 min read

Clickon’s Clare Roberts looks at the state of play of DE&I in brand content, and how it will change with regulation, demographic shifts and (of course) AI.

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DE&I in brand content: are you doing what you need to? / Alexander Schimmeck via Unsplash

The fabric of the American demographic continues to evolve, with projections from the Census Bureau suggesting that by 2045, current ‘minorities’ will become the majority.

The imperative for brands to reflect this rich tapestry of diversity in their content has never been more critical. In the contemporary corporate landscape, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) are not merely buzzwords but foundational elements of a robust business strategy, extending beyond workplace practices to the core of brand identity.

The resonance of content – including marketing campaigns, social media engagement, and product design – with a diverse audience is pivotal. Recognizing the power of content that reflects the nation’s diversity, brands like Procter & Gamble and General Motors are leading this charge. How? By making public pledges to bolster diversity in advertising, aligning their business objectives with America’s evolving cultural landscape.

The social and regulatory lens

Social justice movements like Black Lives Matter and Stop Asian Hate profoundly impact consumer expectations. Brands are evaluated not just on product quality but also on the inclusivity of their content. According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, 53% of Americans expect brands to engage with social issues beyond direct business interests.

Adding weight to this narrative, data from the Female Quotient shows that content that portrays diversity accurately can lead to a significant uptick in brand trust – as much as an 83% increase. This statistic is a clarion call for brands to invest in DE&I-focused content, not just as a moral imperative but as a strategic imperative.

In this context, regulatory bodies like the US Federal Trade Commission play a crucial role, ensuring content honesty and adherence to diversity principles without perpetuating deceptive stereotypes. This compels brands to examine their content through a DE&I lens, aligning with both the letter and spirit of inclusivity.

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AI: A technological ally for DE&I?

As we produce an astounding 2.5 quintillion bytes of data per day, brands are losing control and visibility, making the implementation and thoughtfulness of DE&I in their content paramount.

The advent of AI technology presents a powerful solution to this challenge. Sophisticated algorithms can now analyze vast quantities of content, providing brands with insights into the diversity portrayed in their images, videos, and text. AI tools can flag potential biases and gaps in representation, enabling brands to align their content more closely with DE&I values. This not only enhances brand equity but also serves as a safeguard against the reputational risks associated with content that may inadvertently perpetuate stereotypes or alienate segments of the audience.

The business case for DE&I content integrity

The cost of inaction is stark. According to a report by McKinsey, companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35% more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians. The risk for brands that fail to leverage tools like AI to ensure the integrity of their DE&I content is not just a potential loss of consumer trust but also a tangible impact on the bottom line.

By investing in AI and other technologies to regain control and visibility of content, brands are not only committing to an ethical imperative but also investing in long-term relevance and success in a marketplace that prizes authenticity and inclusivity. The journey towards embedding genuine DE&I into brand content is arduous, yet it holds the promise of building a future where equity and inclusion are not aspirational but are reflected realities of the American marketplace.

Marketing Diversity & Inclusion

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CLICKON is a global strategic, creative and production company with offices in New York, Los Angeles, Charleston, and London, focused on reinventing the way advertising...

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