How Brands Stay Genuine During Pride

From Charlene Polite Corley, VP, Diverse Insights & Partners, Nielsen

What advice would you give to brands to ensure authentic representation of the LGBTQ+ community not only during Pride, but year-round?

Our research at Nielsen shows that globally LGBTQ+ people felt the best way to improve inclusion in the media was to avoid stereotyping and tropes. That means that marketers have to get to know the community they’re trying to reach. You can’t do that one time a year. You can’t do that by speaking to just one segment of a population. Keep it intersectional, informed by the community and closely tied to what matters to them.

How can brands build a genuine connection with consumers and ultimately help build brand loyalty?

It starts with practicing what you preach. If you want to do business with a diverse community but don’t have equitable policies, career advancement or leadership practices, today’s consumers are too savvy to let that slide for long. People want brands to demonstrate the values that matter to them in the inclusive campaigns you launch and in the day-to-day way you operate.

Beyond that, you have to be apart of diverse communities and empower diverse voices at the table within your organization. Without this authentic input and lived experience it will be hard for outreach not to fall flat.

What is a favorite pride month or LGBTQ+ focused campaign? Why?

I absolutely loved the historic MJ Rodriguez Lexus ad. Glamor, beauty, luxury and intersectional representation of the LGBTQ+ community. Nielsen data showed the campaign reached more than 17 million people on TV alone and latest research underscores the importance of representing not only sexual orientation but gender identity as well. A win all around.

Two years ago, calls for diversity and social justice reached an all-time high and brands were quick to renew commitments to these causes, which brands do you believe are still staying true to their DE&I commitments?

There are a couple of ways where we’re actually measuring this by tracking representative content and ad spend by category and brand within those programs. So for example, we see categories like fashion and travel investing ad dollars in content where Asian Americans are  represented at population parity. Advertisers fund much of the content that gets created so investing in content that has inclusive talent and themes is just one way for brands to continue to act.

As the advertising industry are the narrators of culture and history, what’s your advice in encouraging and challenging brands to take risks and stay committed to an equitable future? 

Pay attention to what matters to your current and future consumer. Your brand’s goals may not always be the most important thing on a consumer’s mind--especially for marginalized and historically excluded communities that are facing very real threats to rights, safety and economic growth. Get to know them and you’ll get to know how and where your brand fits within their lives to add value.