UK advertising still falls far short of representing the LGBTQ+ people positively, a new survey has found.

Two-thirds (65%) of LGBTQ+ people questioned agreed that their community is represented in a “positive, inspirational” way that “pushes boundaries”. That’s a decline from 74% of people who thought this in 2019.

The findings come from the second annual study commissioned by Karmarama, part of Accenture Interactive, in partnership with Gay Times and conducted by YouGov. The survey includes answers from more than 6,500 consumers and marketing decision makers.

Only 36%, of LGBTQ+ respondents believe ads truly reflect their community, which is sharply down from 48% last year.

And an overwhelming majority (82%) of those questioned believe the representation of LGBTQ+ people in advertising is tokenistic, a proportion that has barely changed from the previous year (81%). The prevailing view is that brands want to be seen to be inclusive of diversity rather than earnestly addressing diversity-related challenges.

Respondents also strongly feel brands need to do more outside of Pride Month. Only a third (32%) of marketers questioned said their campaigns engage with LGBTQ+ people independently of Pride. This was despite the fact that 84% of the community surveyed saying they wanted brands to make more effort outside of Pride.

Marketers also appear to lack an awareness of their failings, with just 25% disagreeing with the statement that their brand “successfully represents and engages with the LGBTQ+ community”. Under half (43%) of marketers said their business sense checks or tests brands’ messaging with LGBTQ+ audiences.

More than two-thirds of those surveyed (67%) said they would be more willing to spend with a brand that engaged with LGBTQ+ people.

Asad Dhunna, founder of The Unmistakables agency and former director of communications for London Pride, talked about how brands could adopt the right tone to address the LGBTQ+ community at a Mediatel discussion last week durng The Future of Diversity: Pride in Advertising.

“I think there’s a fear and that’s the bit that needs to be overcome, and that fear has circulated again with Black Lives Matter. People don’t know what they can and can’t say,” he observed.

“We’re all in bubbles in social media where we’re not really listening and hearing other people and I think the one thing for me, in communities like ours, is the level of nuance and the true understanding of LGBTQ+ – they’re all different and they can’t all be lumped together.”

The report’s authors recommend five steps for brands to build “allyship” with the LGBTQ+ community:

- build diversity of thought within the workforce;

- listen to customers to avoid oversimplifying the LGBTQ+ community and sense check your campaign messaging with the community;

- become a year-round ally, not only during Pride;

- get involved with LGBTQ+ causes to take brand commitment beyond the bottom line; and

- set out a road map for achieving brand goals that focus on a long-term commitment to inclusive representation.

sourced from Karmarama, Mediatel