Authenticity has to be the cornerstone of your inclusive efforts. If you’re using inclusive advertising as a gimmick to make a profit, consumers will see right through it. Take lingerie giant Victoria’s Secret for instance. The women’s intimate apparel brand was recently slammed for a seemingly innocuous Pride post on social media because the CMO of Victoria Secret’s parent company made comments about not hiring trans-models last December. Consumers will hold you accountable if your inclusivity is inauthentic.
Make Real Change:
Whether you’re launching a limited edition line of rainbow sneaks or showing a diverse range of body types in your marketing materials, consider donating a portion of the proceeds to an organization aligned with your inclusive efforts. Not only does this help affect real change, it also gives weight to your inclusivity as more than profit-focused.
Keep It Going:
Do better than a one-and-done initiative. If inclusivity really matters to your brand, make it a core part of your efforts outside of themed months or holidays. Aerie, an offshoot of American Eagle, has built a powerhouse brand around showing real women (unphotoshopped), a huge range of inclusion (women with disabilities, health conditions, and more), body positivity, and empowerment. It’s a year-round commitment that’s paying off in a big way.
Hire Diverse Talent:
Show your inclusive values in how you hire. Seek out, hire, and promote a diverse range of employees. It will only further your brand’s authenticity for inclusivity. According to a recent AdAge article, IKEA is a great example of this: “Twenty-five years ago, IKEA was the first brand to feature a gay couple in its broadcast advertising and since then the brand’s “always on” efforts to advance LGBTQ+ equality have been heavily recognized. In fact, for the fourth year in a row, IKEA has earned a 100% score on HRC’s annual LGBTQ Workplace Equality scorecard.”
Prepare for Backlash:
The truth is inclusivity doesn’t appeal to everyone. You may have consumers who don’t appreciate your efforts, and they’ll likely let you know about it. It’s important to remember the values you stand for, and let go of those customers or potential customers who don’t support them.