With the majority of Generation Z supporting brands that take a stand on issues they believe in personally; more brands than ever are embracing diversity in their marketing and brand campaigns.

Talenthouse recently hosted a breakfast panel discussion at Soho House in London, which also included six pieces of LGBTQ+ inspired art from creators within the Talenthouse community. The topic of discussion focused on diversity, particularly within the LGBTQ+ community, and how global companies can create content that authentically represents and engages these communities to help influence change.
Talenthouse Co-Founder, Maya Bogle, LGBTQ+ Consultant, Josh Fletcher, and Head of Brand and Commercial at Gay Times Magazine, Tag Warner, were amongst the panel speakers. The discussion focussed initially on how LGBTQ+ representation has transformed in a short space of time. Only a few years ago, the visuals were stereotypical, oiled-up, topless men with six-packs who were used to represent the gay community. However, the panel acknowledged this as something to be seen as relatively old fashioned, and quickly turned to examples of how major organisations/brands have set out to celebrate diversity in a far more rich, authentic and deep-rooted way. Examples ranged from the Channel 4 “Superhuman” campaign for the 2012 Summer Paralympics, to McCain’s Chips running a TV commercial depicting a gay couple and their child in their family home.

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Following on from this, there was a general consensus amongst all panel members that the route to true success in representing diversity is via authentic storytelling. The transactional, tick-box mentality is no longer effective for brands. Brands plastering rainbows over their latest products as soon as Pride Month rolls around in order to tap into LGBTQ+ audiences is no longer enough, and measuring the success of brand campaigns through their complex and sensitive approaches to diversity is now something to be seen as a performance indicator. Another issue facing brands, and creative industries in general, is the representation of LGBTQ+ communities in the production of ideas and creative work.

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This is where having global communities create work comes into play in the industry. Instead of a group of “straight, white men” creating visual work for people of color within the LGBTQ+ community, a creative platform such as Talenthouse can provide access to visual artwork that has been created by a diverse group of people. For example, an illustration from a transgender person to authentically depict a transgender campaign. This is something that was touched upon within the discussion, as a means of cutting out the tokenism approach to advertising campaigns, and moving on to developing real brand advocates from within LGBTQ+ communities in order to provide an authentic and diverse representation.

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Ultimately, the importance of brands normalizing diverse representation within their marketing efforts is something that really hit home throughout the discussion. Global brands have a responsibility to authentically represent and tell the stories of people from all walks of life, and it seems fair to say that it is becoming increasingly transparent when brands jump onto the bandwagon of diversity. Rather than using diversity as a “bolt-on” tactic, the importance of ensuring that real, compelling, and representative visual work is fully integrated into all strategies is what is needed to normalise LGBTQ+ representation; ultimately solidifying a shift in advertising, where it is commonplace to celebrate diversity both within specific communities and as a whole.

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Talenthouse will be hosting a series of events with Soho House, if you would like to participate in future events please contact: alex@talenthouse.com