WARC’s new diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) hub showcases the latest best practice, research, expert guidance and case studies to help marketers implement successful DEI strategies.

DEI is now a priority for marketers with 82% of respondents to WARC’s global Marketer’s Toolkit survey saying it is important to their 2023 marketing strategies, a third of which (33%) said DEI would significantly impact their marketing plans.

And it is a priority for WARC, too. Not only is supporting DEI the right thing to do, diversity in advertising demonstrably makes a difference to effective marketing. This is why we are working with our global partners to conclusively prove that more diverse advertising works, and put DEI at the forefront of marketing effectiveness.

It’s clear that DEI intersects with marketing effectiveness in a number of ways, specifically:

  1. Better representation. Global research by Kantar found 88% of people agree that “not enough brands do a good job of representing people similar to me or my community”. The study shows that 59% of consumers say it’s important that the companies they buy from actively promote diversity and inclusion. Amongst younger millennials, 70% claim that more diverse casting in ads is a key driver of preference.
  2. Building – and retaining – diverse and inclusive teams. The industry needs more diverse inputs, from more diverse teams. Not only at entry-level, but also in the C-suite. As Aline Santos, Chief Brand Officer and Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer at Unilever noted in a speech delivered at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, “‘No seniority, no priority’ is a phrase that I use a lot, because I totally believe it when we talk about equality, diversity and inclusion,” she said. “If we have seniority [buy-in], we have it all, because the grassroots now understand what needs to be done and they are fine with it.”
  3. The role of advertising in supporting diverse media. This means consciously shifting investment to, partnering with, or appearing alongside inclusive content and diverse points of view. You can read more about how brands like Diageo are investing in responsible media in the WARC Guide to Conscious Media Investment.

Proving the link between diversity in advertising, and effective outcomes

The data gleaned so far shows that diversity in advertising works, but there is a lot more work to do.

A four-country study conducted by Ipsos for the Unstereotype Alliance, sponsored by Cannes LIONS, found that consumers’ expectations of brands are changing, and those that create content with diverse representations of people in terms of race, ethnicity, creed, body size, sexual orientation, gender, ability and more, in roles that defy traditional stereotypes are best positioned to strengthen business performance and meet consumer expectations.

And a global analysis of over 11,000 ads on Kantar’s Link platform showed ads perform better when they feature people from more diverse backgrounds. These ads are more likely to get viewers’ attention and be remembered: they are more enjoyable and involving. This improves potential impact and can have a multiplier effect: they make spend more efficient, improve media ROI, and also show a short-term sales benefit, and long-term brand building.

‘Feeling Seen’ a study by ITV, the UK broadcaster, System1, the global advertising effectiveness experts and DECA, diversity media specialists, shows how brands and viewers both win when advertising broadens its scope. Advertising works when brands create positive associations and strong emotions. Ads which make people feel good drives brand growth, and when people feel seen, they feel good.

Our DEI hub features research, insights and solutions from our global partners including the Advertising Association (AA) the Advertising Research Foundation (ARF), IPSOS, Outvertising, System1 and UN Women.

A sincere thank you to all our partners who have contributed to the hub, and to all the experts who have provided their guidance about DEI over the years. If you would like to contribute your research, case studies or expert guidance, please get in touch. We need to work collaboratively to ensure DEI is at the heart of marketing effectiveness. Let’s get to work.