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By Kurt Thigpen
You read that right, advertising is officially coming out of the closet, and it’s time businesses, brands and agencies embraced that fact. The LGBTQ community is one of the most diverse groups of people imaginable. It includes people of every gender, religion, creed, color, nationality and income bracket.
So, why are ads still lacking in LGBT representation? I’d like to present a few reasons why LGBTQ representation in advertising is to your benefit in the long run, and some tips on how to do so effectively and respectfully.
Here are a few things to consider:
- Long-term loyalty. One of the deciding factors for consumers are business’ commitment to social issues. According to a 2014 Google Consumer Survey, 45% of consumers under 34 say that they’re more likely to be a repeat customer of an LGBT-friendly company. You can’t buy that kind of loyalty, but you have to mean it.
- Avoid tokenism. Consumers respond well to ads that depict an authentic, relatable experience not a cheap attempt. Think of AT&T’s recent ad showing two dads about to go out, but are worrying about the babysitter who can’t even remember their kids’ names. It was incredibly relatable, and funny. Google it.
- Avoid stereotypes. LGBTQ consumers don’t want to be depicted as an over the top stereotype. Some tired examples are the effeminate gay man or masculine women. Instead, include them like you would in any other real-life scenario. Getting coffee, going to the store, walking down the street. We’re all just people going about our day after all.
- Be inclusive and diverse. Whenever LGBTQ people are depicted in your ads, include individuals, family members, friends and couples of different ages, races and genders. It’s not good enough to use a photo of a white male couple once and call it a day. You have to be consistent.
- Remain steadfast. You need to know that you will receive hateful or discouraging comments about making these decisions. You should know that backing down from your ads after the fact will just alienate LGBTQ consumers. Stick to your principles and inform the haters of your diversity policy and leave it at that.
There’s so much more to cover, but there’s not enough room in this column! I sincerely hope you’ll consider making a change to create more inclusive ads for your agency or business. Best of luck!
Kurt Thigpen is the President of AAF Reno, CEO at Ace Studios and NCET’s VP of Email Services for Tech Wednesday. NCET is a member-supported non-profit that produces educational and networking events to help people explore business and technology.