Google CMO: There’s a massive business opportunity in getting D&I right

Improving representation and inclusivity will help make Google’s marketing more effective, according to CMO Lorraine Twohill.

There is a “massive business opportunity” in making marketing fully inclusive, while demonstrating the commercial impact of better representation is the “Holy Grail” for Google, according to the tech company’s CMO.

Announcing the launch of “inclusive marketing toolkit” All In at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity last week, Lorraine Twohill said a measure of the success of the work Google is doing to improve inclusivity in its marketing communications would be greater effectiveness. A recent campaign for Chromebook, where 15% of media was spent on reaching multicultural audiences with bespoke creative, led to a “major increase in effectiveness”.

“Being able to show that getting this right actually translates into business results and impact, I think that’s the Holy Grail,” said Twohill.

“Brands have to think about who their audiences are and how they reach them. I see this as massive business opportunity.”

Google has stepped up efforts in the past five years to try and improve representation in advertising and belonging in the workplace. This has included an extensive audit of its marketing communications, working with experts and communities to identify what needed to change. The toolkit represents the insight the brand has found to date.

I failed to really understand the diversity within diversity. I failed to understand the other types of diversity.

Lorraine Twohill, Google

Twohill acknowledged Google had fallen short in its advertising in the past, citing the representation of African Americans as light skinned women who were on average 10 years younger than men. She also pointed to the underrepresentation of over 65s and people with disabilities in need of assistance as further examples of previous bad practice.

The Google CMO added that her own understanding of diversity and inclusion is a work in progress.

“As as a woman who has 30 years in advertising and over 20 years in tech, both very male industries, my fight has always been raising women. It’s always been about gender. It’s always about bringing women with me and helping more women get a seat at the table and into bigger roles, and make sure our work represented that well too,” said Twohill.

“But I failed to really understand the diversity within diversity. I failed to understand the other types of diversity….There’s so much more complexity that we all just need to be much more fluent on today.”

Updating insight

Inclusivity in insight is also key, she added, “talking to the right people” to inform the brief handed to agencies, as well as the work and products launched by Google.

Twohill offered the example of the ‘CODA’ campaign, an acronym for child of a dead adult, which highlighted the importance of assistive technologies during lockdown. The campaign was the product of “a lived experience of a designer at Google”.

Elsewhere, the introduction of ‘Real Tone’ technology was an attempt to better represent all skin tones across Google products, an issue highlighted by an African American employee.


“We would never have known of these issues, we’d have never known these insights, if we hadn’t had folks in our team who really cared about this domain and who pushed us to do better,” she explains.

This also extends to the insights used in briefs to agencies, Twohill adds.

“We all know in our industry a bad brief leads to bad creative and just getting the brief right was a hugely important first step that we just had not spent enough time on and really getting the insights in that brief,” she admits.

“For me, you know, a great brief is always jam packed with killer insights. And if we don’t do the hard work, to talk to the right people and make sure we’re inclusive in our insights work, then you don’t have really great universal insights that you can then bring into your creative.”