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Marketers ramping up call for diversity and inclusion

In recent months, the marketing community has increased its efforts to promote diversity. In this piece, Digital Media Editor Mike Driehorst explores recent campaigns and how a more diverse industry is beneficial.

3 min read


Marketers ramping up call for diversity and inclusion


While you would expect more campaigns around awareness for diversity and inclusion this time of year – with February being Black History Month and March being Women’s History Month – the prevalence of campaigns points to a larger movement.

But how brands and their agencies have taken action differs: Some are direct, while others are more subtle. Let’s look at some of the latest D&I campaigns.


In January, Coca-Cola’s A Coke is a Coke, created with Wieden+Kennedy Portland, was launched. Later, at the Oscars, Nike, with another from Wieden+Kennedy Portland, gave us a women’s empowerment ad voiced by Serena Williams and encouraged women to “Dream Crazier.”

Just recently, Visit Columbus teamed with BVK and announced a campaign focused on LGBTQ travelers to attract more of that demographic to its city.


Image courtesy Chevrolet/YouTube

Some brands and agencies seem to portray D&I as just a part of how life should be. Look at AT&T’s “OK babysitter,” created by BBDO, featuring a pair of gay dads.

Around the Super Bowl, there was Chevy’s “A Little Bit Country, A Little Bit Rock ‘n’ Roll” (right) for its Silverado truck, produced with Commonwealth//McCann. That spot had a diverse lineup of actors and actresses.

More than just campaigns

In addition to the campaigns, there are also numerous call-to-action columns about the value of culturally diverse teams in marketing.

We Have Stories CEO Frederick Joseph wrote in Adweek, “Having inclusive teams that drive the marketing strategies for these brands is the untapped treasure trove that will set apart the good brands from cultural and community staples.”

There’s also Goodby, Silverstein & Partners with its Talk Shop series, offering “unfiltered conversations about life and work from people of diverse backgrounds and identities.”

More than just “feel good”?

This emphasis on multiculturalism and D&I is more than a feel-good trend, as study after study suggests.

For example, one of SmartBrief’s partners, the Association of National Advertisers published a report last fall that provides a deep look into the current state of marketing agencies, entitled, A Diversity Report for the Advertising/Marketing Industry.

That summary includes this smart bit:

Improving diversity is good for business and growth. According to McKinsey, there is a direct correlation between diversity in the leadership of large companies and two measures of financial outperformance — profitability and value creation (measured as economic profit margin).

While there may be more to do to balance the scales of diversity and inclusion, the marketing and communications industry has a lot to work with, as VCU Brandcenter’s Vann Graves points out in Adweek:

“This country is so fortunate to be characterized by a beautiful patchwork of people from different backgrounds, cultures and communities. When treated with the respect and honor it deserves, this gift of diversity can help us avoid repeating past mistakes and reflect more proactively on our present and future.”

I welcome your take on diversity and inclusion among content creators. Let me know your thoughts on Twitter @SBonSocialMedia.

Mike Driehorst is SmartBrief’s digital media editor, working on newsletters covering social media, advertising, agencies, interactive marketing, web design/development and multiculturalism.