The entertainment industry has long been leading the way in representation. It’s past time for other business segments to do the same. To introduce you to why representation in marketing matters, as well as highlight a path forward, we’ve broken out this powerful topic into what we call The Five Ps: The Purpose, The Proof, The Practice, The Pitfalls and The Postscript.
If historically marginalized communities don’t see themselves (or others like them) in your marketing efforts, inclusion is a tough sell for your destination, property, attraction or event. This is why travel marketers should consider viewing their target audiences through the lens of six overarching dimensions of identity: gender, race, age, sexuality, disability and income.
There is no lack of industry research on the importance of representation in marketing. Some of the most compelling findings we’ve collected to date are:
The best way to appreciate representation in marketing is seeing the work of brands doing well. We love how Dove encourages women to celebrate Real Beauty by featuring models not only of different ethnicities but different ages, sizes and shapes as well.
In 2019, Benefit Cosmetics selected Kate Grant as their brand ambassador. She is the first model with Down Syndrome to represent a major beauty brand and her ambassadorship has been universally hailed.
Even the toy industry is embracing representation. Coming a long way from Barbie’s roots as a blonde-haired, blue-eyed resident of Malibu, Mattel now offers Barbie dolls from different cultures and differing abilities.
Even the most well-intentioned professional can inadvertently miss the mark when it comes to representation in marketing. Most often, missteps happen in one of two ways:
- Misrepresenting a target audience or representing them in an inauthentic or stereotypical manner.
- Painting an oversimplified, one-dimensional picture of a target audience by focusing only on a singular aspect of their identity.
Both of these pitfalls have the strong potential to offend prospective visitors and guests. At Dana, we formed our official Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Executive Board to help define our vision and fully understand the dynamics of change, designing an appropriate strategy, and selecting and combining the most effective interventions and best practices. We review approaches used to create change toward diversity, equity and inclusion and articulate some of the challenges faced.
While celebrating each group’s identity and individuality, it’s important that we don’t lose a sense of our shared experiences and humanity.
Perhaps no commercial represents this concept better than Coca-Cola’s “Hilltop.” Arguably one of the most iconic TV spots of the 1970s, it all began with McCann Erickson’s creative director (sorry, not Don Draper) writing heartfelt lyrics that included, “I’d like to buy the world a Coke and keep it company.” Hearing the song, the art director conceived of the “First United Chorus of the World,” made up of an international group of young people singing together on a hilltop. According to Coca-Cola, “At a time when conflict dominated headlines, ‘Hilltop’ became a rallying message of tolerance and hope.”
Put simply, we all have a desire to be seen, valued for who we are and warmly welcomed. And that should shine through in every one of your communications to travelers.
Ready to represent? Dana can help you connect with travelers authentically and equitably. Contact Lynn Kaniper today at 609.466.9187 ext. 117 or firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.