Nine ways to make marketing more inclusive

Lorraine Twohill is Google’s Chief Marketing Officer. In this article he talks about his team’s ongoing commitment to making brand announcements more representative and inclusive.

A version of this article appeared earlier on Adweek. The great educator and guru of inclusion Reggie Butler once told me: “Habits are not changed just by using your head, you have to do it with your heart”. Today I work in two sectors, technology and advertising, which in my opinion are very interested in the theme of diversity but where old habits have hindered evolution. As a Google CMO, I know it’s my job to help change the situation. Last year I talked about some of the lessons learned so far. Since then we have made progress but, like many in the industry, we still have a long way to go. Let’s take the artistic aspect of our work as an example. During last year’s creative review sessions I had the impression that I saw more diversity in the cast. And I wasn’t very wrong: for some time now we have been using machine learning and manual reviews to evaluate our work. In our work, the number of women on the screen has risen to 48% this year. The age of the people we include in our ads reflects more of the general population, while 23% of the consumers in our U.S. ads are black skinned. But I still didn’t have a general picture of the situation. It turned out that our casts mainly included people with clearer complexions and too many mixed couples. Even though the variety of complexions had increased among the people in the cast, we often relied on role stereotypes. Of the black portraits, one in three was confined to dance, music or sport.
A face is not everything: identity is made of nuances. There is a diversity in diversity.

I realized that we had interpreted diversity only through the broadest categories: women, LGBTQ, black, Latin Americans. A face, however, is not everything: identity is made up of nuances. There is a diversity in diversity.

To solve the problem, we have to start by changing habits, but how to do it on a large scale? How do we change the behaviour of teams and agencies? We still have a lot to learn, but these nine practical tips have come in handy:

1. We make sure everyone feels responsible

Too often we have used women and black people to highlight the problems of diversity at work, but the burden cannot fall on them alone. Our diversity team now consists of senior leaders, regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation. We made sure that each member of the team took responsibility for freeing themselves from personal preconceptions.

2. We choose as partners agencies that share our vision

As most of our creativity is done by partner agencies, it is important to work with people who care about inclusion. We have compiled a list of agencies that excel in this respect. We recently contacted the top 70 partner agencies on the list and asked them to provide us with figures on representation. Together with my team, I am holding meetings with their CEOs to discuss diversity plans and learn from each other.

3. We use authentic people in our work

One of the best ways to avoid stereotypes is to use archive footage and real stories. We do this more and more often. One of my favorite examples is Black Girl Magic, a campaign we launched on the occasion of International Women’s Day, focusing on real black women who have left their mark on history.

4. Let’s think about all aspects when choosing castes

Empathy and the possibility of identifying oneself with creativity can only be achieved through attention to detail, for example who speaks and who holds the product in their hands or uses it. That’s why we place more emphasis on diversity when we hire editors, producers, filmmakers and staff working behind the camera. For example, the multicultural agency Cashmere did a great job when it produced the creativity Playmoji by Childish Gambino for Pixel 3.

5. We approach creativity and media with a holistic approach

Last year we launched a Chromebook campaign with a media plan for TV and creativity specific targeting segments of Latin American audience. Compared to the general population, we have seen a 50% increase in consideration among these segments of the public. We are now building a team to ensure that for each campaign there is a multicultural media plan.

6. We work with others to measure results

With Geena Davis and her research institute we use the experience gained during previous projects to measure the representation of genres in YouTube ads using machine learning. We are also taking part in the #SeeHer of the US Association of National Advertisers to adapt our technology to help brands measure unconscious representation and bias in their ads.

7. Let’s get out of the schemes

As a technology company that aims to hire different talents, there is a limit to the candidates we can find in San Francisco. As a result, we have first of all expanded the area in which to look for staff to hire. We are now building an active pipeline in cities like New York and Los Angeles.

8. Let’s make inclusion a daily habit of the team

We used external experts, such as GLAAD and ADCOLOR, to develop training courses for our team. We have also recently launched internal campaigns with posters in many of our offices. Transparency and accountability also help, so we present fortnightly reports to leaders on team representation issues.

9. Even the heart has its reasons

We have learned that the responsibility for starting the process and completing it lies essentially with the managers. With the help of Reggie Butler, we have developed new training that speaks directly to the heart and helps managers change behaviour and demonstrate their commitment to inclusion, regardless of commercial reasons. The course is called Examined Human. As Google builds products for everyone, we firmly believe that everyone deserves to recognize themselves in our work. This is an achievable result if we take good habits. We have a lot to learn from the leaders in this area. We look forward to rolling up our sleeves and working towards the goal.

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Pubblicato il 14 February 2020