“Diverse thinking breeds better creativity.”

Keith Cartwright
Co-founder, Saturday Morning

In 2019, Google CMO Lorraine Twohill felt she was seeing more representation in the brand’s advertising.

At the time, 23% of consumers in Google’s U.S. ads were Black.

But representation without inclusion is not enough.

“It turns out we were mostly casting people with lighter complexions … And even when we were bringing in more complexions, we often did so in stereotypical roles.”

Lorraine Twohill
Chief Marketing Officer, Google

Brands like ours have a responsibility to authentically represent all of our users. But 66% of African Americans say they feel their ethnic identity is often portrayed stereotypically.1 We can, and must, do better.

When brands do the work, people notice.

Our survey of nearly 3,000 U.S. consumers found that 64% took an action after watching an ad they considered inclusive.2

Black respondents were more inclined to purchase from a brand whose advertising positively reflected their race or ethnicity.3

But what makes an ad authentically inclusive?

In 2019, P&G sought a new perspective.

The brand asked creative collective Saturday Morning for help telling a story about microaggressions many Black men face.

This wasn’t P&G’s first foray into racial justice.

Their short film “The Talk,” which depicted Black mothers preparing their children to navigate racism, was criticized for perpetuating stereotypes about Black fathers.

Before reentering the conversation, the company took time to confront the thinking that led to those creative decisions.

“They [P&G] have demonstrated very authentically, commitment to undoing some of the tropes that have existed in advertising … in a way that brings people together.”

Jayanta Jenkins
Co-founder, Saturday Morning

By positioning the narrative through one man’s eyes, “The Look” made racism visible to everyone.

Not every branded film can or should tackle injustice.

Business-as-usual work, too, should be nuanced in its portrayals of every identity, especially those that are underrepresented.

Drawing 132 million views in its first month, Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty marked the biggest launch of a makeup brand in YouTube history.4

Fenty Beauty

It was also a landmark in inclusive marketing.

At the time, foundation typically came in less than 10 shades. It was nearly impossible for darker-skinned people to find a match. Fenty Beauty not only launched with 40 shades, but went live in 17 countries on the same day at the same hour, ready to ship to 137 countries.5

Fenty Beauty

The #BeautyForAll campaign succeeded, because the product spoke for itself.

For International Women’s Day 2019, Google created a video inspired by rising searches for “Black Girl Magic.” The montage showed a range of achievements both personal and historic across professions and disciplines.

The campaign mixed found footage with professionally produced video clips that celebrated diversity within the Black community.

No two women or girls featured in the video are alike.

Some are young, some old; some famous, some not; some trans, some cis; some lighter in complexion, some darker.

To be truly inclusive, advertising creative should go beyond surface-level diversity to portray people authentically. When it doesn’t, it risks reducing a diverse community to a monolith, potentially reinforcing harmful biases.

To help avoid reductive portrayals, Google produced an internal campaign urging creatives to review their work through a bias-challenging filter.

“We needed to be more nuanced in our thinking and make sure we were solving for many different kinds of diversity,” wrote Twohill.

But the best way to tell inclusive stories is to hire diverse storytellers.

Why inclusive teams deliver better ideas and stronger outcomes