The advertising industry used to make history. If it doesn’t listen to consumers and enact systemic change, it may become history.
According to new research findings from Kantar, people are increasingly disconnected from advertising, with less than one in five believing that ads are representative of wider society.
The findings of the study, commissioned by Unilever, were also significant regarding advertising’s impact on young people and marginalised communities. Some 71% of those surveyed believe stereotypes in media are harming the younger generation, while nearly one in two people from marginalised communities, including Black, Hispanic, Asian, LGBTQ+ and people with disabilities, feel they have been stereotyped in some way through advertising.
Commenting on the findings, Tarana Burke, founder of the ‘Me Too’ movement, says: “Society and consumers are telling brands out loud that they are hurting. This is the moment for the industry to show it listens to marginalised voices. Under-represented people need to not just feel included but be included. This is what will transform the messages we hear, the images we see, the products we use, and how each of these are created.
“The ad world must lend its talents to lead true change in society. It must listen to the people who are leading these lives and these movements, and ACT on what is heard. When anyone feels represented in the mainstream, it has the power to fulfil the fundamental human need to be heard – one that the industry can actually help deliver on.”