In celebration of LGBT History Month this week we are looking at representation in the media.
For some, being fully inclusive in their advertising is already old hat. Maltesers have been running a hugely successful campaign featuring a diverse cast of characters since 2016, using humour and frank conversations to force us to see past the diversity and focus on their human story. McCain’s We Are Family advert in 2017 focused on the fact that there is no normal – they showed that family is family, whether that is 2 dads, single mums, two parents or no parents. The power of representation on the individual cannot be underestimated, seeing someone like you on screen for the first time truly is not only momentous, it also prompts brand loyalty. With the so-called ‘pink pound’ being worth an estimated £6bn in the UK alone there is a lot of money to be made by simply doing the right thing.
Talk Talk ran outdoor in January for home broadband and it literally has people elated. It’s just a picture of a normal old couple binge watching on the couch, but they’re gay. Two normal old guys, but one has an arm round the other so it is quite clear they’re in a relationship. What is so excellent about this is that the ad is showing the LGBT community without making a radical statement. This is the kind of representation the LGBT community want, it reflects them living a normal life, and signifies acceptance. One small step for Talk Talk, one huge step for the advertising industry. More where this came from, please.
America’s largest Bridal Store chain, David’s Bridal, has recognised that it values “every type of bride” with the inclusion of a two brides sharing their first dance as part of its new campaign. “We wanted to make sure this spot represented what we see from brides today,” said CMO Liz Crystal. A wise move for a company that filed for bankruptcy protection last year as, in the first year after gay marriage being finally passed in the US, same sex weddings contributed $1.6bn to the US economy. The US has seen many major retailers featuring same-sex couples since the landmark ruling in 2015 – Kohl’s, Tiffany&Co., Wells Fargo and Zales have all run inclusive campaigns. Whilst gay men and lesbians may increasingly be seen in US campaigns, representation of the T in LGBT is still controversial in the US. Even the hint being accepting of transgender children in the recent Gillette campaign sparked a virulent public outcry from some quarters.
Research by UM has found that almost half of UK consumers believe that TV and film fail to represent society authentically. 27% of UK adults want to see more LGBT+ representation and this rises to 47% for younger people aged 16-24. With LGBT+ month currently being marked in the UK, Black history month (marked in US during February) – the 91st Academy Awards are just around the corner and they have a lot of work to do. Following on from the backlash over their choice of host (Kevin Hart subsequently stepped down from hosting duties after being forced to apologise over his homophobic material) the Academy has opted to go without an MC – this year will see the presenters take on the role of host but will they be able to get the show back on track? Previous years have seen the awards show dogged by campaigns such as #OscarsSoWhite so we look forward to seeing films such as Black Panther (7 nominations) being formally acclaimed for its diverse cast. Watch this space…