Advertising seen as more representative - but latest research shows there is still more to do

ISBA and Flock launch diversity best practice guide for brands

Advancing industry progress towards greater Diversity & Inclusion is a key priority for ISBA. Alongside the Advertising Association and the IPA, we have placed our support behind the All In census. If you haven’t filled the Census out, you still have until tomorrow, Friday 19 March to complete it.

One year ago, our Diversity and Inclusion Working Group commissioned a research study to track representation in advertising. Carried out by Opinium and funded by the Direct Line Group, the aim was to understand whether the public think that advertising is representative of society.

There have now been three waves of the research carried out. Each time, it has posed two critical questions: 

  1. How far did they agree with the statement that it is important for different groups in society to be well-represented in advertising 
  2. Did they agree that TV adverts reflect modern British society? 

We now have the results of the third wave, which we are launching today. They indicate that:

  • 69% of respondents say that proper representation in ads is important
  • However only 50% agree that TV ads demonstrated that diversity (up from 42% in August 2020 – a 9% increase)
  • Only 45% of respondents agreed that TV adverts reflect modern British society, up from 36% in August 2020

Notably there have been improvements across all demographics, and an improvement in female representation within advertising. However those of East and South Asian ethnicity feel increasingly less represented within advertising. The Food and Drink sector is leading the way in terms of representation, whereas Automotive and Electrical goods sectors appear to be the least inclusive.

You can see the full deck and results here

These results show there is still much work to do in ensuring advertising is truly representative.  ISBA and the members of our D&I working group are committed to changing this for the better, and believe that tackling the issue of under-representation and lack of diversity in advertising is simply non-negotiable.

To assist you with your own efforts to ensure your brand’s advertising is fully representative of the British society, we have worked with our partners Flock to produce a best practice guide for brands. You can see this and many more resources in our Diversity and Inclusion Hub.