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How Do Consumers Respond to Ads that Mix Black and White Actors?

  • JOURNAL OF ADVERTISING RESEARCH

Many companies and brands increasingly incorporate racially diverse actors, often mixing Blacks and Caucasians in their advertising, yet not much is known about its effectiveness. New research explores how actor race and social tie strength—essentially the potency of the bond between the two actors—translate into consumer responses, with indirect effects on purchase intention.

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  • Article

Brands’ Social Stance and Consumer Behavior

As brand leaders increasingly feel motivated — or pressured — to take a stance on societal issues, Morning Consult’s study explored whether ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) positions translate to changes in consumer behavior. The findings offer new insights into the attitudes and behaviors of different consumer types. Morning Consult’s research (a cluster analysis of survey data) resulted in six distinct consumer types. These varied widely in their likelihood of considering a brand’s stand on causes and political issues.  The six types are:

  • Apolitical shoppers (10%) are most likely male and politically conservative. They are the least interested in ESG brand traits; they choose brands based on price, product availability and brand trust.
  • Disengaged shoppers (16%) are mostly young and lower income. They don’t have strong feelings on brand stances on social issues, brand trust or even price.
  • Practical shoppers (20%) are primarily driven by price, product availability and value. This group is not interested in brand ethics.
  • Reputation shoppers – the largest group (23%) - claim they want the brands they shop from to be a force for societal good, but their actual behavior does not match their attitudes.
  • Ethical shoppers (14%) are higher income and liberal. They pay a lot of attention to company stances and policies on ethical matters, sustainability commitments and diversity, equity and inclusion commitments. Three quarters of them say they have boycotted a company for political reasons. They are the most likely to change their purchasing behavior based on ESG considerations.
  • Experience shoppers (16%) prioritize the in-person shopping experience alongside brand ethics. They want to shop from brands that sell environmentally friendly products, as well as from companies that treat their employees well. These shoppers, likely to be female, prefer brands to limit their activism to issues that are directly related to their business.
Morning Consult concludes that brands stand to gain more from acting on left-leaning issues (like supporting environmental initiatives), as those are the causes that will score points with the customers who pay attention to PR buzz and with those who are much more likely to match shopping behavior with attitudes. But it likely won’t change consumer behaviors. Meanwhile, Apolitical and Disengaged shoppers aren’t likely to be paying attention, and if they are, they probably won’t boycott because they disagree with a brand’s stance.  Source: Tassin, C. (2022, June 2). ESG Statements and The Retail Industry: 6 Consumer Profiles to Know. Morning Consult.  

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  • Article

Same-Sex Marriage Support at New High

New Gallup data show increased support for same-sex marriage overall, but not among the religious. When Gallup first polled about same-sex marriage in 1996, barely a quarter of the public (27%) supported legalizing such unions. It would take another 15 years, until 2011, for support to reach the majority level. Then in 2015, just one month before the U.S. Supreme Court's Obergefell v. Hodges decision, public support for legalizing gay marriage cracked the 60% level, and last year it reached the 70% mark for the first time.  As Gallup's trend on support for legal same-sex marriage inches upward, the question is when it will reach its ceiling. While support has typically increased by small percentages on an annual basis -- often within the margin of error -- cumulatively, the increases have produced a transformation in U.S. attitudes on an issue Americans once vehemently opposed. At the same time, it is noteworthy that support among those who attend church services weekly has not increased during the last five years.  Source: McCarthy, J. (2022, June 1). Same-Sex Marriage Support Inches Up to New High of 71%. Gallup. 

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Concurrent Track Panel Discussion: Diversity in Advertising

The ARF’s Jay Mattlin brought together the presenters from Day Two’s Diversity in Advertising track to expand on the common themes and findings from their individual studies. The panel agreed that, in communicating to diverse audiences, mere representational casting or presence in ads and content was not enough. Creative that resonates with multicultural audiences needs to incorporate elements of empowerment, appear in representative programs, and show underrepresented groups in positive, non-stereotypical ways. The following are edited highlights from the panel discussion.

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  • Article

Inclusive Content is Good for Business

Charlene Polite CorleyVP Diverse Insights & Partnerships, Nielsen

Key Takeaways

  • Nielsen research found that 41% of viewers were more likely to buy from brands that advertised in content that represented them.
  • Less than a third of today’s programs represent women at population parity. Women are more than half of the population yet women are represented at 43% of share of screen time in lead or recurring roles on TV.
  • Viewers were 3x as likely to see a man over age 50 than a woman in the same age group on screen.
  • South Asian women’s share of screen time was just .3% last season—a fraction of their 2.3% population estimate.
  • Certain populations are missing and erased altogether—Native American women had zero representation in 86% of TV programming genres, including formats like national news.
  • On average a third of women feel how they are depicted on screen is inaccurate.

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  • Article

Path Forward: Identity, Representation & Authenticity

NBCUniversal and Magid partnered to determine how diverse consumers self-identify and how that informed their life experiences in relation to representation and authenticity, particularly in their brand and content choices. Research from clients, consumers and field surveys showed that, while multi-cultural audiences are multi-faceted, they are connected by common threads from shared cultural pillars, shared success and struggle, a sense of community and the straddling of two worlds. These findings led the team to a framework for “ideal representation” as a hierarchy of four distinct levels that define what consumers consider most important in being authentic.

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  • Article

Overcoming the Diversity Gap in Mobile Gaming

Chloé GingrichGlobal Insights Strategist, Gaming & eCommerce, Meta Stephen GrayVertical Research Manager, Meta

Key Takeaways

  • Mobile gamers surveyed felt more connected and immersed in gameplay with characters that represented them or people like them.
  • The gap between mobile gamers’ desire for diversity and their actual gaming experience reflected that less than 40% of gamers felt represented by gaming characters.
  • Make gaming inclusive from development through to execution. Bake diversity in throughout the entire process of developing and marketing a game to show an integrated commitment to inclusion—never try to add diverse representation to a game as an afterthought or in an ad.
  • Promoting diversity should go hand in hand with safety in virtual spaces.
  • Avoid all stereotypes that include hypersexualization of women and hypermasculinity in character design.
  • Don’t use advertising to imply that the game is more inclusive than it is. The most effective ads should showcase exciting aspects of gameplay, as well as meaningful nuanced representation.

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  • Article

Diverse Reactions: Getting Diversity and Inclusion Right in Advertising

Deepak VarmaHead of Neuroscience Insights – NA, SE Asia & Pacific, The Kantar Group

Key Takeaways

  • The majority (68%) of consumers agreed that ads with diverse characters show an authentic reflection of society, and the feeling is stronger among people of color.
  • Not promoting diversity could hurt brands but promoting it will not alienate other consumers. Just showing under-represented groups has no impact on the ad’s ability to build brand equity or increase short-term sales.
  • Showing under-represented groups positively–in progressive, non-stereotypical ways–can dramatically accelerate sales lift and long-term brand equity.
  • Illustrate the brand message by celebrating culture and focus on the identity of the under-represented.

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