A single person sees almost 2 million ads per year. That means almost 2 million ways we, as the advertising industry, could be helping people see themselves positively and authentically reflected.
But for too long most ads – including many of our own – have portrayed historically marginalized communities in ways that are harmful or stereotypical. And that’s only if they get included in the first place. In the past year, we have seen an incredible call for change, but our actions have not been enough. It’s on all of us to have the billions of messages seen by people every day truly represent the multicultural and nuanced world we live in.
Now, I do not claim that I have always done it right or that we’ve figured it out. But, I have been on my own journey for a while now. I had to learn there was more to diversity than gender, and that diversity exists within diversity. So in the spirit of helping others get there, I wanted to share our learnings with everyone.
At Google, we have always believed in the power of sharing what we know, so that our tools and resources can help tackle our biggest societal challenges, including addressing inequality in advertising. So that is why today, we are making our internal toolkit, All In (g.co/all-in), available to everyone, to help make change a collective reality.
Since 2017, we have been partnering with experts and community organizations like ADCOLOR and the Geena Davis Institute to build this toolkit to fix our mistakes, while bringing others with us on this journey. We can’t expect our work to get better if we don’t take others along with us. We work with hundreds of agencies, and sharing what we have learned about inclusive marketing has made a world of difference, for us and them.
You can find resources to help build the right team, make inclusive creative and strategic decisions, and hold ourselves accountable. Three years ago I shared the results of our initial audit, showing 10% of the creative we reviewed featured Black or Latinx people. Thanks to the learnings from this toolkit, that number is now 26%. And in 2020, 72% of these ads featuring Black people did not include over-used portrayals of music, sports or dancing.
Our creative audits have also shown us that we need to make more room for LGBTQ+ stories and portrayals, include more older adults and people with disabilities and much more. There’s more work to do, but even just having the data forces us to do better.
Marketing can either break stereotypes or solidify them. I want to be on the side of breaking stereotypes. Some of our work has made us proud, but really, it is a journey and we all have more to learn. Today is only one piece of the puzzle. But by sharing what we have learned, we call on the industry to tap into our collective responsibility to make work where everyone feels seen.
Because change can only happen when we are all in.
Lorraine Twohill is chief marketing officer at Google.