Diversity in TV Ads is Good Business: VAB

Target's ads featuring the founder of Honey Pot drove sales. (Image credit: VAB)

Marketing messages about diversity and inclusiveness also bring business success, according to a study of more than 3,300 TV spots from over 50 brands over the past five years by VAB, the trade group for the TV industry’s top advertising sellers.

The study, titled Do The Right Thing: How Diversity and Inclusion Drives Brand Outcomes, found that inclusive ad campaigns drive strong attention and increase attention for brands and that marketers embracing topics that resonate with consumers see improved engagement metrics, including increases in social conversations, online video views and searches. 

Ultimately, inclusive advertising campaigns grow the bottom line for businesses that decided to run them.

“Creating increased customer activation and brand growth in the current economic and business environment is a major challenge for marketers,” said VAB CEO Sean Cunningham. “Motivating under leveraged customer segments with messages that genuinely resonate can ignite business results. Do The Right Thing provides statistical evidence that embracing diversity and inclusion as a core brand component leads to positive business outcomes, such as increased engagement across each stage of a customer’s path to purchase, as well as growth in sales.”

VAB said that in the current business environment where every dollar is being closely watched and results are being closely scrutinized, it wanted to see the relationship between advertising that focuses on diversity and inclusion and business outcomes.

To do its research, VAB said it used data from measurement services including iSpot.tv and Comscore along with publicly available company sales figures.

Nike recorded record revenue after running ads featuring Colin Kaepernick

Nike recorded record revenue after running ads featuring Colin Kaepernick (Image credit: VAB)

The report also includes 20 case studies illustrating the findings.

In one campaign that ran earlier this year, Target ran an ad features Beatrice Dixon, the founder of The Honey Pot, to support minority female-owned businesses. VAB found that the ad had one of the retailer’s highest attention scores and sales of Honey Pot items increased 20% to 30% during the month after the campaign launched.

VAB also cited Nike, which has been running ads since September 2018 using the theme of people pursuing their dreams featuring Colin Kaepernick, the former NFL quarterback kneeled during the national anthem before games, setting off a controversy. The ads have resulted in record-breaking sales and a new high for third quarter revenue. Sales have continued to climb each quarter since the Dream Crazy commercial started running.

Other brands in the report include Third Love, Samuel Adams, Pantene, Barbie, Tylenol, Zola, Toyota and Procter & Gamble

To judge the success of campaigns, it looked at each stage of the marketing funnel, from awareness and consideration to intent and sales.

VAB found that several techniques worked best in campaigns, including showcasing real, authentic inspirational voices, embracing people’s strengths and vulnerabilities, promoting empowerment, supporting their community, speaking their language authentically, creating products for underrepresented people and taking a stand for social justice.

The do that brands need to embrace diversity in their DNA, campaigns need to be “real” to be effective and know that video is a strong platform for inclusivity messages.

The report concludes that doing “the right thing” by developing and investing ni diverse, inclusive campaigns grow the bottom line, that marketers should consider ways other than advertising to tell consumers about their efforts to be inclusive and, when relevant to the brands, marketers should consider creating in-language executions to more strongly relate to consumers.

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.