What’s the difference between embracing diversity and celebrating diversity?
According to a panel of industry leaders, it all centres around ideas of tokenism and moving past “ticking a box”.
When ANZ introduced Australian Grand Slam tennis champion and Paralympian Dylan Alcott as a brand ambassador, replacing Novak Djokovic, it was about recognising Alcott’s sporting achievements, said TBWA regional group head ANZ Ricci Meldrum during a panel event hosted by the IAA in Sydney last night.
This is an example of embracing diversity.
“When you celebrate diversity you are calling it out, when you embrace it, it just is, and I think that’s where we’re moving,” she said.
Gone are the days of finding a ‘token’ person of colour or person with a disability, with diversity now being integrated more seamlessly into advertising, said Meldrum.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean those days were pointless.
“Tokenism has an actual role to play – in all types of media – in moving the conversation from ‘we’re doing fuck all’ to ‘we’re doing something’ to ‘can we be doing this better?'” said journalist, presenter and author Marc Fennell.
“It serves a purpose, to a point.”
But whether or not tokenism has been effective or not, brands can no longer afford to present marketing material that is not reflective of the audiences they serve.
According to ANZ everyday banking marketing lead Helen Merrick, brands now have the ability to communicate with customers and understand how to present diversity in a natural way.
“15 years ago, whichever big company you worked in, we were all doing it [tokenising diversity],” she said.
“The principles are still the same, but it’s just gotten more real.
“We’ve got tools and techniques now that make it possible for us to just be a whole lot more nuanced and authentic and actually allows us to challenge ourselves.”
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