Let’s Talk Diversity
by Angie Ash, Executive Vice President
Open up a magazine, watch a few television commercials or banner ads, or read a few articles like this one or this one and you’ll quickly learn that showing diversity in advertising is at the forefront of everything we’re consuming these days. As someone who has friends gay and straight, black, white, Asian, Hispanic and mixed, old and young, obese and rail-skinny, married, divorced or single forever, and with full and limited physical capabilities, I realize there is a lot to cover.
In years past, primarily the ‘80s to the early 2000s, there was a lot of emphases placed on showcasing the ideal. Ideal ages, bodies, lifestyles, relationships, marriages, friendships, homes. You name it. Worse yet, the ideal was always white, wealthy, straight, thin, young and with energy to spare. But, it turns out ideal is pretty depressing for most, not relatable for nearly all, and consumers finally had enough.
The tide has turned and we’re now finally making progress. But in their efforts to show diversity, are some advertisers going about it the wrong way? I would say yes. Just this week, I saw one commercial that literally tried to check off five boxes in one fell swoop. It was a turnoff to me, perhaps because the footage was primarily stock footage. So, although the ad showed some nice diversity in several categories at a glance, the people shown were still ALL pretty, thin and healthy-looking and it came across as contrived. It was almost laughable. I could practically picture a boardroom (still done up in dark woods and burgundy) where the president demanded a commercial be made to highlight how wonderfully accepting the company is to all. I pictured the checklist. I pictured the edits (still need someone in a wheelchair or being pushed up a ramp) Huge eye roll!
As someone in the ad business, working primarily with fine jewelry retailers, the low-hanging fruit to showing true authenticity is coming through your door every day. Your customers are real people, who, in most cases, are coming in to make a purchase for someone they love. That love should be celebrated in whatever form that love takes and that means showing people as they are. Highlighting real customers and celebrating their love stories as couples will go a long way to break down the barriers that exist both socially, and to entering your store. If your advertising only shows the “ideal” instead of celebrating the “real”, you’ll never be able to get past the barrier to approachability and affordability that today’s consumers crave.
I know the road to a flattened landscape where we can all just be people, not singled out by the differences our eyes catch at a glance and process, or by what may or not appear “normal” is a long one. But I’m still longing for it in the meantime. And I’m celebrating those that get me and get advertising true diversity right.