The year was 2016. For some God-awful reason a remake of Ghostbusters was released and I am on record on saying I would walk out on that movie even on an airplane. We said goodbye to some iconic figures: Muhammad Ali, Prince and David Bowie, among sadly, many more. There was also a Presidential election that year. For the life of me I cannot recall how that turned out. My therapist calls it selective memory blocking.
Anyway, it was in the same year I wrote something entitled The 6 Most Dangerous Words In History. Little did I know the 6 words I selected would be far outweighed by 6 different words. Oh Lord would they ever. Click the link above if you want to know what the other 6 words are I refer to.
However, the 6 words I wrote of were the following:
The reason I believe these are six of the MOST dangerous words in history is because far too often we humans rely on the status quo; doesn’t need fixing cause it ain’t broke. Sound familiar? The danger in adopting such a mentality is progress takes one on the chin. Oh yeah, if we all defaulted to the way things have always been, hell I can’t imagine the world we’d be living in right now.
What Year Is It? Help Me, Please.
On June 15 of the year two-thousand twenty-one a woman named Callie Schweitzer wrote an article entitled Marketing still has an LGBTQ inclusion problem — how do we solve it? Schweitzer, who is the Senior Marketing Editor at LinkedIn News, wrote a great piece and is worth the read for sure.
One part in particular caught my eye, which is the focus of this piece:
“…half of marketing and ad execs surveyed say they still see risk in including LGBTQ people and scenarios in advertising, according to a recent study from LGBTQ advocacy organization GLAAD and Procter & Gamble.”
It is the aforementioned study which truly caused me to pause for after reading the high-level findings I openly questioned the current time in our history aka what year is it?
- 81% of Advertisers and 41% of Agencies agree that “an inauthentic execution of LGBTQ people and scenarios would lead to a larger backlash than not featuring them in ads at all.”
- 78% of Advertisers and 31% of Agencies agree “it is difficult to adequately represent the LGBTQ community because the community is complicated and has many nuances.”
- 61% of Advertisers and 28% of Agencies agree they are “fearful of public backlash for including LGBTQ people in advertising.”
There are more findings and I will get to some of them in a second but I had to pull over the shoulder on the information super highway to weigh in on the above first.
What in the name of God is going on?
- For starters, and this is radical, how bout you DON’T deliver an “inauthentic execution of LGBTQ people and scenarios?” Oh that’s right you can’t do that because…
- “It is difficult to adequately represent the LGBTQ community because the community is complicated and has many nuances.” ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
- As for the backlash, public or otherwise, wait… ok yup, it is still 2021. Thought maybe we all jumped in the DeLorean and went back to 1955.
NOTE: Did you catch the wide disparity between how advertisers answered vs agencies above? You don’t think this is telling, do you? You don’t think this is perhaps a sign that advertisers and their agencies are working in silos? Yeah, me neither.
Now, if you REALLY want to have your head spin, read this, three more findings:
- 61% of Advertisers and 60% of Agencies strongly agree that companies that feature LGBTQ people and scenarios in advertising are “helping consumers understand and respect LGBTQ people.”
- 56% of Advertisers and 60% of Agencies strongly agree that companies that feature LGBTQ people and scenarios in their advertising are “companies that value all kinds of diversity.”
- 56% of Advertisers and 55% of Agencies strongly agree that companies that feature LGBTQ people and scenarios in their advertising are “companies that are supportive of LGBTQ rights.”
So let me see if I get this:
On one hand Advertisers and Agencies have NO CLUE what they are doing when it comes to LGBTQ and the portrayal thereof in ads.
On the other hand, Advertisers and Agencies think it’s just swell those companies WHO DO know what they’re doing are, well… they’re just the best.
Again, I suggest you read Schweitzer’s piece.
And in that piece, in the comments specifically you will find this gem from Geoffrey Colon, Head of Brand Studio at Microsoft Advertising:
“Brands see there is money to be made with the LGBTQ+ community and in some verticals have been tapping into the community for several decades. But that is where you have to go beyond transaction to transformation. What are those companies’ grades when it comes to hiring and highlighting LGBTQ talent? What are they doing for the community beyond the month of June? How does their business tap into that community in a way that it feels like a true partnership and not just a way to increase sales for the second quarter? Those strategic executions speak louder than any rainbow-fied logo on your LinkedIn profile.”
That’s gold, Jerry. Gold!
I love the term “transaction to transformation.” May have to borrow that one.
The questions Colon asks i.e What are they doing for the community beyond the month of June? are more than likely questions they will be in no rush to answer.
Just a hunch…