Lloyds urges advertisers to challenge image banks on diversity

A lack of diversity in the stock images available from image banks is holding back advertisers’ efforts to represent an inclusive Britain.


Advertisers’ inability to find stock shots which display a range of diverse people is affecting their capacity to reflect modern Britain in their creative work.

Speaking at Marketing Week Live today (8 March), Lloyds Banking Group director of marketing innovation and communication, Ros King, linked the inability to find imagery which authentically represents diversity in the UK with a general lack of inclusivity in advertising.

“We, like most large-scale advertisers, use a number of image libraries and it’s really difficult to find good stock shots of a range of diverse people.

“This is something our design agency is discussing with the image banks and it would be absolutely great if the other advertisers out there would issue the same challenge to them.”

READ MORE: The dangers of images that reinforce stereotypes

This is an issue of real importance considering 65% people feel more favourable towards brands that reflect diversity in advertising, while 67% already expect advertisers to represent the diverse aspects of society, according to Lloyds’ Reflecting Modern Britain Report.

Published in December, the report found that just 19% of people shown in advertising are from minority groups, of which just 0.06% are people with disabilities or from the LGBT community.

King argued that progress towards inclusivity is also being limited be an aspect of unconscious bias.“The important thing is to recognise that we do have these biases and consciously try to compensate. The most dangerous people are the ones who are adamant they have not bias at all.”

She recalled a piece of internal research carried out in 2015 on a series of Halifax brochures, which found that women were represented in domestic settings, advertising lower risk products, whereas men were used to advertise higher risk products like investments, unconsciously putting them in more powerful positions.

King urged advertisers not to worry about getting diversity wrong, but instead commit to do more. “There is the fear of getting it wrong and there being a media or customer backlash. It’s more embarrassing to be called out for trying and getting it wrong, than not trying at all. But our customers expect and want us to do more.

“You cannot deliver diversity at the casting stage, it needs to start much earlier in the creative development process. We have found the importance of demonstrating inclusivity, not just diversity. You also need to be authentic and when showing a minority make sure that the depiction of the character is real. And storytelling always comes first.”

The Lloyds Banking Group estimates that 3 million of its 30-million strong consumer base are people with a disability, 2 million are members of the LGBT community and 43% are over 50.

Looking internally, King reaffirmed the Lloyds Banking Group’s commitment to increase the number of women in senior management roles from 28% to 40% by 2020, in a company where already 70% of the marketing department is female.