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P&G & GLAAD’s ‘Visibility Project’ to Advance LGBTQ Visibility in Advertising

P&G has committed $1M over three years and partnered with GLAAD to work with brands and agencies to advance LGBTQ inclusion in advertising. New study finds senior marketing and ad execs recognize LGBTQ inclusion as a force for positive social change, yet worry about authentic representation.

The renewed fervor behind the social justice movement in the US, ignited by the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police last year, has forced the public and companies alike to re-examine a myriad of issues related to the perception and representation of minorities and other underrepresented groups across the country.

Companies of all sizes have made sweeping commitments to achieving racial equity, and broadening their understanding of gender diversity, internally. And brands including Dove and Netflix have called for broader representation in media — with Unilever even removing the word “normal” from its personal care products and advertising — in an effort to end “othering” in the media, with a goal of challenging social prejudices and increasing empathy and understanding.

Now, Procter & Gamble (P&G), which has been at the forefront of the inclusivity-in-media movement with its thought-provoking ads and socially impactful programming, has partnered with LGBTQ media advocacy giant GLAAD to launch The Visibility Project — a campaign to drive and sustain LGBTQ inclusion in ads and marketing, and to leverage the power of these media to accelerate LGBTQ acceptance.

P&G’s Pantene brand, for example, has set the bar for queer and transgender inclusion and visibility: In 2018, Pantene Philippines gained worldwide attention with its #StrongerTogether ad campaign featuring transgender supermodel Kevin Balot. In 2019, the brand launched its “Power to Transform” campaign celebrating the broader spectrum of beauty within the LGBTQ community, partnered with GLAAD for a holiday ad featuring the Trans Chorus of Los Angeles, and partnered with the Dresscode Project to help reduce the stress transgender people often experience when visiting a hair salon. In 2020, its “Family Is BeautifuLGBTQ” series of ads highlighted queer couples who have adopted children from different cultural backgrounds; and in March of this year, the company’s viral ad featured a lesbian couple and their transgender daughter.

The Visibility Project

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The goal of The Visibility Project is to make this kind of representation and visibility the norm, rather than the exception. P&G and GLAAD will bring together the world’s top brands and ad agencies to advance LGBTQ inclusion in ads — creating and providing tools, techniques and resources for industry executives; and using the power of advertising to accelerate LGBTQ acceptance.

While LGBTQ inclusion in advertising is expanding, a 2020 study by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media found only 1.8 percent of characters in ads from the annual Cannes Lions festival were LGBTQ. New P&G and GLAAD research, based on interviews with advertising executives, found that advertisers are concerned with backlash from the community when inclusion misses the mark. The research shows a strong need for tools, resources, and best practices when inclusion occurs.

Phase one of The Visibility Project will recruit Fortune 100 advertisers to collaborate on a blueprint for LGBTQ inclusion in advertising that ensures brands and companies prioritize impact, as well as accurate and authentic representation. Based on learnings from the first stage, The Visibility Project will develop and launch industry best practices and thought leadership that inspire and compel other brands to grow inclusion in their own ads and in the industry as a whole.

In addition to partnering with GLAAD on the recruitment and education stages, P&G has committed more than $1 million over three years to launch, grow and sustain The Visibility Project.

“Equality is not only a top priority at P&G — it’s a responsibility,” said P&G Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard. “As one of the world’s largest advertisers, we’re committed to using our voice and reach to increase visibility of the LGBTQ+ community in advertising and media. We strive for accurate portrayal and will continue to take a stand to eliminate bias and advance equality. Through The Visibility Project, we hope to learn more about the unique needs of the LGBTQ+ community in order to elevate their visibility in our content and communication.”

LGBTQ Inclusion in Advertising and Media, Advertiser and Agency Perspectives

As part of The Visibility Project’s launch, P&G and GLAAD have also released findings from the LGBTQ Inclusion in Advertising and Media, Advertiser and Agency Perspectives study. Conducted in February 2021, the study is based on responses from 200 marketing and advertising executives: 100 B2C advertisers with budgets of $50 million to over $1 billion, and 100 agencies representing clients with B2C media budgets of $15 million to $1 billion.

The P&G/GLAAD study showed that — while the majority of marketing and ad execs recognize the important social impact of responsible and authentic LGBTQ representation — many are more concerned about the risks of inauthentic representation and response from the LGBTQ community than with a public backlash for including LGBTQ people. The study points to a need for better resources to create ads, which The Visibility Project aims to develop with its partners.

“While there is broad understanding of the fact that inclusion of authentic LGBTQ representation in advertising promotes positive social change, we first must transform corporate cultures and secure commitments from top management to create meaningful inclusion,” said GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. “The Visibility Project marks a new milestone in GLAAD’s important work with P&G to grow LGBTQ inclusion in the world of advertising and leverage the power of ads to create change and acceptance. During this pivotal moment when brands are stepping up and stepping out on social issues, the inclusion of LGBTQ people and issues is a major opportunity and responsibility.”

The launch of the Visibility Project and this new research builds on the impact of P&G and GLAAD’s 2020 LGBTQ Inclusion in Advertising and Media study — the first-ever to measure how non-LGBTQ people in the US respond to LGBTQ representation in TV, films and advertising.

Read more results of the 2021 ‘Advertiser & Agency Perspectives on LGBTQ Inclusion’ Study here.

For info on joining The Visibility Project, visit http://glaad.org/Visibility-Project.

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