Selling Valentine’s Day starts after the dust of Christmas and New Years settles. Shades of pink and red line the candy aisles and brands begin to commodify the idea of love. The visual representation of love for many years has looked the same: a beautiful, white, heterosexual couple laughing and sipping champagne. However, recently, the media has showcased a modern and more realistic definition of love with diverse couples.
It’s no secret that consumers are no longer tolerating ads that lack diversity when, after all, different messages resonate with different audiences. The job of a great communicator is to tell a story that is relatable, but how can underrepresented groups relate to a story when it doesn’t include someone that looks like them?
To be clear, diversity is not only about race. Diversity means“the inclusion of people of all races, ages, genders, sexual orientations, social classes and economic classes” (Webster’s, 2019). Diversity and inclusivity are imperative to organizations, resulting in an impactful brand image for companies, resulting in not only a rise in sentiment and brand perception but also gains in revenue.
According to a recent survey by MarketingDive, brands with the most representative ads saw an average stock gain of 44 percent in the seven-quarter period. In addition, another recent MarketDive survey found that brands with high diversity showed an 83 percent higher consumer preference. But this isn’t just a result of marketers! It’s important for brands to note that minority groups have huge spending power. As reported by Nielsen, the spending power of African-Americans is projected to reach $1.2 trillion by the end of 2020, and the LGBTQ+ community has already reached $917 billion. However, it’s important for these brands and campaigns to be authentic and not over-sensationalize people’s experiences. Here are a few of our favorite brands who have told the story of real love well.
In 2017, Lush Cosmetics unveiled an LGBT-inclusive Valentine’s Day campaign, #BetterTogether. The brand posted pictures depicting two same-sex couples taking bubble baths to promote its bath-related products to couples on Valentine’s Day. What makes this campaign stand out is how Lush went to Facebook a week after launching their LGBT-inclusive campaign with a post saying that the most shocking part of the #BetterTogether campaign was its unusually large bathtubs. By posting this, Lush downplayed the obvious LGBT representation in order to avoid sensationalizing the topic.
MeUndies does more than offer couples quirky-colored and wacky-patterned matching undies (ones that we must admit we gush over). In their Valentine’s Day campaign for 2020, and for many others, the brand focuses on offering products and promoting ads that look like the modern consumer. Featuring multi-racial and same-sex couples, along with promoting body positivity and older couples, MeUndies prides itself in campaigns that foster diversity and express the story of a realer version of love.
Love goes beyond gender. Captured in Jared’s December 2018 campaign “Dare to Be Devoted,” multiple couples of vast backgrounds come together to portray realistic love. Same-sex couples are portrayed, alongside multi-racial couples, next to recently divorced couples and even one couple that reversed societal gender norms by having the woman propose to the man. Jared captures the idea that love is multifaceted and belongs to no one demographic group. The idea that love can only be portrayed as white and heterosexual is disbanded entirely in this campaign, and by accompanying these images with romantic music and inspiring headlines, Jared dares the audience to take the leap into a love no matter who they are or how they choose to identify.
Communicators should continue to ensure all campaigns tell stories that consumers from all backgrounds can relate to, but remember to do so with authenticity and that aims to tell the story correctly. May all of us, communicators and consumers alike, work on showing real love to one another that reflects in our work.