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Have you considered being gayer?

Advertising is arguably behind in its representation of minority groups when compared to other areas of the media world, in particular TV programming. Advertising generally relies on stereotypes to communicate because it requires accepted social norms and gender defined binary roles to set the scene within a matter of seconds. However, it does seem to underestimate the audience; who could probably ascertain that a woman in a DIY store was probably going to use the drill she is buying in the same way a man would.

There has been some progress in the representation of the LGBTQ+ community in recent years, however 72% of the LGBTQ+ people asked in a YouGov survey carried out by Gay Times and Karmarama, thought that gay representation in advertising was tokenistic.

A lot of brands have now started to incorporate LGBTQ+ messages into their advertising during Pride – although it can often feel opportunistic rather than inclusive or natural: a recent US study showed that half of respondents said that if a company releases Pride related merchandise they are more likely to see it as a marketing tactic.

Although a same-sex couple should be interchangeable with a heterosexual couple for a mass market product, the LGBTQ+ audience is an important one. According to GWI, it makes up 8% of the population in markets such as UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden and Denmark, with Forbes reporting in 2019 that the buying power of LGBTQ+ groups was at $1 trillion. This is only going to grow, with each generation seeing a noticeable increase in those who no longer identify as ‘straight’.

Whilst only 8% of baby boomers consider themselves LGBQT+, an amazing 31% of generation Z do. This is the group who are only a few years away from entering key age targets for many advertisers. A YouGov study showed that half of respondents would be neither more nor less likely to buy a product featuring a same-sex couple. However, 58% of LGBQT+ respondents said that it would make them more likely. 34% of millennials said that same-sex representation would make them more likely to buy a product vs. 15% who said they were less likely.

It isn’t just LGBTQ+ groups that want to see better representation in advertising. 62% of adults in the same YouGov survey also said that it was positive to see increased visibility. In a survey carried out in the USA by GLAAD and P&G, they found that 86% of people thought inclusivity in advertising showed a brand’s support for equal rights, and 85% thought it showed a company’s commitment to offering products for everyone. Overall, 75% of people asked were comfortable seeing LGBQT+ representation in advertising.

Being inclusive in your marketing isn’t necessarily a big political statement, and it works to creatively appeal to a sometimes-ignored audience. A study by Google found that 79% of the LGBTQ+ community enjoyed humorous adverts over emotional or political ones. 68% of people surveyed also said that a funny advert was more likely to drive purchase intent.

A great example is a 2017 advert for Coke that was created for an international market. It featured a brother and sister racing to give an attractive pool cleaner a Coke, only to discover that their mother had beaten them to it. The 60 second advert had an 87% retention rate on YouTube and was shared over 24 thousand times.

ARM viewpoint

Embracing more diverse representation in your marketing has multiple benefits. Aside from the fact that it is the right thing to do, it also has commercial benefits. Consumers consistently say that it is a positive thing to see increased LGBQT+ representation and it improves their opinion of a brand. It is also a great way to build your brand for future consumers. The increase in the number of people who no longer identify as heterosexual is clear in each generation. In 5-10 years, those younger consumers are going to be your core consumer, and they will be looking for brands that they identify with. As the world and your consumers develop, inclusivity is key and if it is done right, it helps build the image of a company that people want to purchase from.

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