Spark Foundry Publicis Groupe Partner The Marketing Society

Elevating diversity in advertising

Insights and opportunities for brands

The landscape of consumer preferences continues to evolve, particularly around diversity in advertising. Spark Foundry’s latest Insights Accelerated report reveals critical trends that brands must heed to remain relevant and connected with their audiences.

The State of Diversity in Advertising

Diversity in advertising has become imperative, with 57% of UK adults indicating they disengaged from media channels in 2023 due to inadequate diversity. This statistic underscores the necessity for brands to authentically represent diverse groups in their campaigns. Our research involving Black, Asian and minority ethnic, LGBTQ+, and neurodivergent individuals sheds light on current representation levels and consumer expectations.

Insight #1: Seasonal Variations in Representation

Our data shows a noticeable fluctuation in how represented audiences feel throughout the year. Representation peaks in January and February, with travel and health & fitness sectors—both traditionally more inclusive—dominating advertising during these months. However, by September and October, representation drops to a mere 16%. This decline could be attributed to ad fatigue over the summer or a fresh consumer perspective at the start of the year.

Implication #1: Sustaining Momentum Year-Round

Brands have a significant opportunity to extend the inclusivity seen in January and February across the entire year. By embedding diversity into their core strategies and not just during seasonal peaks, brands can stand out and maintain stronger connections with diverse communities. There are numerous year-round opportunities for brands to engage with these groups beyond the obvious cultural moments.

Insight #2: The Dominance of TV Advertising

Television remains the leading medium for diversity in advertising, especially notable from December through February. During this period, 62% of people feel represented by the ads they see on TV, compared to 50% in September. In contrast, platforms like Facebook and YouTube maintain more consistent representation levels throughout the year.

Implication #2: Enhancing TV Representation Throughout the Year

The consistent representation on platforms like Facebook and YouTube is due to their ability to run continuous, targeted campaigns. TV advertising, often seasonal, could benefit from adopting a similar approach. Increasing attention to diverse representation in the latter months of the year could further elevate TV’s impact.

Insight #3: TikTok's Demographic Disparities

While TikTok effectively engages younger audiences, significant gaps exist among older demographics and lower socioeconomic groups. For instance, 62% of 18-34-year-olds feel represented in January, whereas only 12% of those over 55 and 30% of C2DEs feel the same. The focus on youthful, upmarket content often overlooks these broader demographics.

Implication #3: Broadening TikTok's Reach

TikTok’s rapidly growing user base, including over 1.7 million adults over 55, presents a substantial untapped market. Brands that tailor their TikTok advertising to include older and more diverse socioeconomic groups can distinguish themselves. Particularly in categories like travel, health, and furniture, brands can subvert norms and engage with a wider audience that is often neglected.

Strategic Pathways for Brands

The insights from Q1 2024 highlight the critical need for consistent, year-round diversity in advertising. Brands that proactively incorporate inclusivity into their campaigns will not only align with consumer expectations but also build stronger, more loyal customer relationships.

The evolving digital landscape, especially on platforms like TikTok, offers unique opportunities to engage with underrepresented demographics. By expanding their focus beyond the conventional target groups, brands can tap into new markets and foster inclusivity.

Embracing these trends with thoughtful, inclusive strategies will be essential for brands aiming to thrive in 2024 and beyond. Maintaining diversity throughout the year, leveraging the strengths of different advertising platforms, and broadening the demographic reach are key steps towards achieving this goal.

Download Spark Foundry's full report here.

Spark Foundry are part of Publicis Groupe UK, a partner of The Marketing Society. 


Authored by Marcos Angelides Co Managing Director Spark Foundry.

Published on 4 July 2024

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