Minority Groups Still Under-represented in Ads

Tyrone Stewart

Maltesers Ad

Maltesers' 'New Boyfriend' ad includes representation for disabled people – but it's still the exception rather than the rule

Minority groups – particularly disabled, LGBT and single parents – continue to be severely under-represented in mainstream advertising, according to research conducted by Lloyds Banking Group.

The report found that, while 17.9 per cent of people in the UK have a disability, they account for only 0.06 per cent of the people in advertisements. Even within this small amount of exposure for disability, there remains under-representation as disabilities are often depicted with a physical cue – despite most impairments being non-visible.

Representation of the LGBT community also stands at 0.06 per cent. By comparison, this group only makes up 1.7 per cent of the UK population – nevertheless, it's a huge discrepancy.

This under-representation continues when it comes to single parents – who represent 25 per cent of the population but only 0.29 per cent in advertisements – and older people. 65-and-overs account for 17.7 per cent of the population and, although represented much more than the other minorities, only feature in 6.17 per cent of advertisements.

“This report highlights that advertising has to evolve to adapt to the reality of modern Britain. While the industry has started to make progress, there is still much more to be done,” said Catherine Kehoe, group brands and marketing director at Lloyds Banking Group.

The study also found that, of 2,200 respondents, 65 per cent would feel more favourable about a brand which reflected diversity in advertising – while 67 per cent expected an advertiser to represent this.

54 per cent of the respondents in the 25-34 age group felt represented. This declined with age, falling to 41 per cent in those aged 65 and over.

Kehoe added: “We found that people expect advertisers to reflect diverse aspects of society, and it cannot be a simple tokenistic gesture. We need to be inclusive and authentic”

One brand that is working to be more inclusive is the Mars-owned Maltesers, which has recently made a conscious effort put diversity at the forefront of its advertisements, for example in the 'New Boyfriend' ad shown above.