Marketing Report
[Marketing Week] Bob Koigi: Brands, agencies invest in diversity, inclusion and equity

[Marketing Week] Bob Koigi: Brands, agencies invest in diversity, inclusion and equity

Global brands, media, marketing and advertising agencies, alive to the growing call to champion inclusion, equity and diversity are investing in new strategies, partnerships and businesses in in unprecedented ways.

This, as a growing body of research points to an empowered customer base that is becoming more insistent on working with brands that employ diversity and representation in the workplace and with in relation to the outside world.

Just recently IPG Mediabrands announced that it will invest a minimum of 5% in Black-owned media channels in aggregate across all clients by 2023.

This, as it emerges that Black-focused media spend in 2020 remained below 2% of total spend, according to Nielsen Ad Intel, despite Black consumers being 13%+ of the population. In 2021, MAGNA estimates the available impressions for Black-owned media equates to 3% of total impressions available across all media types.

MAGNA launched the Equity Upfront™ as part of a long-term equity and equality strategic investment initiative designed to foster deeper exposure for and partnerships with Black-owned media partners.

At the same time, WPP’s media investment group, GroupM, has formed the Media Inclusion Initiative, an integrated investment strategy to support and grow diverse and Black-owned media companies and creators, with an initial focus on Black-owned media and creators.

As the latest program in GroupM’s Responsible Investment framework, this initiative deepens the group’s DE&I commitments. Specifically, the program components include a 2+% Pledge and “Diverse Voices Accelerator” positive impact fund that begins with an initial focus on Black-owned media.

This wave has also inspired Havas Media Group to unveil Meaningful Marketplaces, a new, more impactful way of investing in trusted news sources and minority-owned and operated media.

Built from a consumer-first perspective, Meaningful Marketplaces provide a direct connection to trusted, influential, and engaging media curated by humans and never machines.

Meaningful Marketplaces offer an immediate reduction in sell-side fees for media partners, giving them a more equitable share of investment and greater opportunity to invest in content and creators.

 Under this ecosystem, advertisers have a guaranteed brand safe environment, wherein they can support media that matters. Plus, the system includes transparent costs from the buy to sell sides available to both advertisers and media partners.

Procter & Gamble, P&G, and GLAAD, the world’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) media advocacy organization, have also partnered to launch The Visibility Project, a new campaign to drive and to sustain LGBTQ inclusion in ads and marketing and to leverage the power of these mediums to accelerate LGBTQ acceptance.

With The Visibility Project, P&G and GLAAD will bring together the world’s top brands and ad agencies working to advance LGBTQ inclusion in ads, creating and providing tools, techniques and resources for industry executives, and harnessing the power of advertising to accelerate LGBTQ acceptance.

This comes as the some of the world’s largest advertisers and agency partners recently came together to launch BRiM, a new and industry collaboration in the UK to increase Black representation in marketing (BRiM).

The World Federation of Advertisers, WFA, on the other hand has unveiled the world’s first-ever open-source guide to tackling diversity and representation issues throughout the entire creative process, from defining the business and brand challenges to evaluation and analysis.

The new document has been co-developed by members of WFA’s Diversity & Inclusion Task Force, which launched last year, and which is led by the WFA’s diversity ambassadors Jerry Daykin, GSK Senior Media Director, and Belinda Smith, CEO Americas at m/SIX.

At the same time WPP affiliated marketing and communications company VMLY&R has announced the launch of its Inclusion Experience Practice, a strategic consultancy partner that works with clients to bring about sustainable cultural change within organizations.

The new offering serves as a critical step toward creating connected brands and companies that are culturally sensitive, diverse, equitable, and inclusive. The practice will be led by Chief Integration Officer Myron King.

These commitments come as a new report by Current Global, MAGNA and the IPG Media Lab dubbed “Digital Accessibility: The Necessity of Inclusion,” indicated that brands should prioritize inclusivity when targeting people with disabilities.

With a collective global buying power of $8 trillion, this community represents a significant audience for marketers to exclude by default or design, the report further noted.

People with disabilities, representing 15 percent of the global population, regularly consume all types of content, but are they able to fully access that content comfortably?

 In addition, the study found that accessibility in communications has a direct impact on how people feel about a brand.

People with disabilities are regularly consuming all forms of content weekly or more often, particularly visual content (98%): Social media, TV shows and short video clips are favored by survey participants.

To further drive the inclusivity agenda, institutions are making unprecedented moves including setting up new departments compelte with management.

This is the case with marketing and advertising company MediaCom that recently appointed Nancy Lengthorn, currently Head of Inclusion and Belonging across MediaCom UK and WPP, as its first-ever Global Chief Inclusion and Culture Officer.

Her new MediaCom-dedicated role will involve celebrating and spreading the very best initiatives from across the network as well as pushing out new initiatives to drive belonging and inclusion across the agency.

Channel 4 has also appointed Neila Butt as its new Creative Diversity Lead for the Nations & Regions, and Stacey Olika, as its Creative Diversity Coordinator, Nations & Regions. They will be based in Leeds and Bristol respectively.

In the newly created positions, Neila and Stacey will lead on and deliver the Nations and Regions focused strategic plans as part of the Creative Diversity strategy.

In other news   Outbrain, a  recommendation platform for the open web, has unveiled QualityRating™, one of the most significant algorithm updates in the company’s history.

QualityRating will factor into Outbrain’s existing algorithm to enhance the personalized feed experiences that inspire the discovery of content. Today these recommendation feeds reach more than 1 billion users consuming content on the 7,000+ websites, apps, and devices that Outbrain powers.

ViacomCBS has announced an expanded podcast footprint, featuring brand-new and returning hit series that build on beloved franchises and iconic IP from Awesomeness, BET, CBS News, CBS Studios, CBS Sports, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, Noggin, MTV Entertainment Group, Paramount Network and SHOWTIME Sports.

This slate will serve consumers across comedy, news, true crime, sports, kids, entertainment, and music, reinforcing the company’s strategy to create premium content and experiences for audiences worldwide.

Bob Koigi is an editor at Marketing Report EU