Marketing Needs Diversity

If there’s one thing we should all learn from the disturbing Dove campaign, seemingly depicting women of color as “unclean” is that, diversity is essential in marketing. It is essential in the way people, especially people of color are represented.

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Dove’s Facebook ad, which the beauty brand later apologized for, further illustrated why it is important for people of color to have a seat at the table. Why it is necessity to have people in the room whose experience resonates with those of your target audience.

Perhaps if there was proper representation, the advertising committee that approved the campaign would have realized how offensive the ad was, especially toward women of color. The same demographic a Nielsen report indicates has a strong influence on brand loyalty and the Black buying power. In fact, it’s predicted that by 2021 the Black buying power will reach $1.5 trillion.

In their apology though, Dove tried—perhaps halfheartedly—to redeem themselves.

It reads, “Dove is committed to representing the beauty of diversity. In an image we posted this week, we missed the mark in thoughtfully representing women of color and we deeply regret the offense that it has caused. The feedback that has been shared is important to us and we’ll use it to guide us in the future.”

Missed the mark they did.

I came across a post on Twitter that questioned whether diversity is more important than ones’ qualifications. While I think it’s a valid question, I was pleased to see a response from writer Jas Waters.

@JasFly: “If you don’t hire diversity, who gets to decide who’s most qualified? And if the people deciding all look like you, who are they likely to hire?”

I couldn’t agree more.

There’s a notion that diversity is lacking in certain industries because not enough persons of color are qualified. That is sadly far from the truth. The truth is more people of color, even ones qualified, are likely to be overlooked and are less likely to be promoted even after being hired.

This is another example of systematic racism. The thing with systematic racism is that it isn’t on the surface. It is often implicit and passive, even to those doing the discriminating. It’s human nature to resonate with those we can racially and culturally identify with. And if an advertising committee, executive board etc. are comprised of middle aged white men with little to no idea about the Black experience and women of color, we get ads like the one Dove executed.

What are your thoughts? Is diversity in marketing and advertising essential for proper representation?

  • This ad reminds me of the Budweiser ad that missed the mark and joked about date rape. I am shocked that these ads get beyond some sort of approval process without someone saying something! Perhaps it is showing a flaw in our education system that someone can get in a position such as creating and approving major ad campaigns with no clue about culture or history. To answer your question yes diversity is ideal for teams – and has been proven to foster more innovation (and therefore is a profitable HR strategy) according to EY and McKinsey. But regardless of an ad campaign’s creators race or ethnic background creators need to get a clue!