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Embracing DEI in Advertising: Why You Should Give a Shit

By Greg Carson

I’m an optimist. I believe our world is a beautiful place. Our rich tapestry of diverse cultures, backgrounds, and perspectives inspires me every day. And that’s exactly why I’m excited to incorporate this beautiful melting pot of humanity into the work we do for our clients at 62ABOVE. It’s not just our perspective, it’s our responsibility.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion are not just trendy buzzwords, and this is not a rubber-stamp, one-size-fits-all situation. For far too long, many marketers, agencies and campaigns have perpetuated stereotypes, excluded underrepresented groups, and missed opportunities to connect authentically with diverse audiences. The antidote to years of underrepresentation is not a formula. It’s a state of mind.

Regardless of category, product, destination or experience, embracing DEI in our imagery and messaging fosters an environment of trust and establishes a profound emotional bond between a brand and its customers.

Howard Gossage once wrote, “Nobody reads advertising. People read what interests them, and sometimes… it’s an ad.” As consumers, we seek recognition, validation, and representation in the brands we choose to engage with. By crafting inclusive campaigns that reflect diversity, businesses demonstrate that we genuinely understand and value our audiences in all their beautiful forms.

For example, when casting talent for a recent video campaign we produced for our client Visit Anaheim, we intentionally sought actors that illustrate the diversity of visitors to this global destination. As marketers, we need to do better than just checking the box. We booked actors with consideration towards ethnicity sure, but also body type, sexual orientation, gender identity and ability. In one scene, we loved including a family with a neuro-diverse child.

For Monterey County Convention & Visitors Bureau, our client challenged us to bring campaign ideas that take DEI a step further by taking a beautiful approach to their brand in video that features a deaf family discovering the joys of visiting Monterey County.

Heck, we even created an entire program around diversity and access for Qualcomm and Invent Together called The Inventors Patent Academy. In this program, the clients and agency worked together to create materials specifically designed to represent and support women, people of color and people with mobility issues.

If you’ve made it this far, you’re probably a believer in what I’m saying, and you’re not asking yourself “Greg, why do you give a shit?” But I’m going to answer that question anyway… I truly believe that when brands, marketers and agencies embrace DEI, they step beyond being mere “advertisers” and become mirrors of reality. Customers feel seen and included, which is the right and true thing to do – regardless of what you are selling.