Advertisers ‘failing to bridge the race gap’

While representation of BAME groups in advertising has doubled since 2015, many still feel underrepresented, suggesting brands need to do more work to better represent their audiences.

Dixons Carphone

People from a black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME) background still feel underrepresented in advertising and are too often cast in a supporting role rather than as the star of an ad, despite attempts by brands to better reflect their audiences.

According to research by Lloyds Banking Group, which audited more than 2,000 ads from the top 50 ad spenders, representation of BAME groups in advertising has double over the last three years, from 12% in 2015 to 25%.

But despite this rise, less that one in 10 (7%) adverts position people from BAME groups as the sole or main protagonist. And three out of five ads feature either an all-white or majority-white cast.

The latter figure in particular has led to people from ethnic minorities feeling underrepresented. In a survey of 2,000 people in England and Wales, just one in 10 (13%) white respondents felt underrepresented. However, this number rises to 28% for Asian people, 29% for multi-racial people and 32% for black people.

Brands have also been criticised for how they cast roles, with widespread representation of ethnic stereotypes and failure to acknowledge cultural differences the main issues. More than four in 10 (42%) of Black people feel ads do not recognise their culture, while a third (29%) say they see negative stereotypes.

This despite the fact that the research suggests that improving representation of the BAME community in advertising and promoting better role models could positively impact how people feel about a brand. Some 69% of respondents say they would feel better about a brand if the advertising more accurately represented modern Britain.

Richard Warren, director of marketing communications at Lloyds Banking Group, says: “The rise in representation of the BAME community within advertising demonstrates that advertisers are making significant strides in better reflecting modern Britain. However, there is still work to do in the industry. Brands must continue to develop their communications to authentically represent the diversity of the UK.

“As the largest retail bank in the UK, Lloyds Banking Group supports a diverse range of customers who represent modern Britain. Therefore it is essential that we continue to strive to understand and meet customers’ changing needs, ensuring that all groups in society, no matter their age, gender or sexuality have the opportunity both to feel engaged and recognised.”

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