Guide to Authentic Inclusive Marketing

3 minutes to read by Liz van Zyl

Inclusive marketing is marketing that considers diversity in all forms. This includes age, appearance, ethnicity, gender identity, socio-economic status, and physical ability, just to name a few. It’s all about recognising that your audience is made up of a whole host of different groups, especially in an era of digital communication, where you can reach an even wider variety of people.

But that doesn’t mean that you can just include a stock image depicting one of each members of these groups on your next careers pamphlet, or somewhere on your company’s ‘About Us’ page.

In today’s age, inclusive marketing has to be authentic to be effective. In fact, 57% of consumers are report being more loyal to brands that commit to addressing social inequalities in their actions. And 1 in 3 black consumers doubt the intentions of businesses that run Black History Month campaigns.

At StudioLive (a monthly virtual event hosted by StudioSpace to help business tackle the challenges associated with modern marketing) earlier this month, we asked four marketing experts from a handful of our talented agencies for their thoughts on the topic of authentic inclusive marketing, and how it can be effectively navigated for the benefit of both your business and the wider community that you are trying to engage with. Our panelists also offered valuable insights into why mere representation isn’t enough, how it can actually negatively affect the outcome of any marketing campaign, and how to avoid this.

The Panelists

Adrian Ma, Fanclub PR
Adrian is founder of Fanclub PR, a PR and marketing agency described as “pound for pound, the most creative […] in the world.” They’re committed to delivering positive impacts for both people and the planet, and their content has gained them a number of impressive titles, such as Boutique Agency of the Year 2023 and Small PR Consultancy of the Year 2023. We think it’s safe to safe that Adrian knows a thing or two about successful marketing campaigns.

But the most notable campaign, in terms of authentic inclusivity, is a recent partnership with L&G, working to create accessibility and bridge the knowledge gap in the pensions space. The campaign – ‘Get Britain Pension Ready’ – has been hugely successful so far. The idea is that nobody should be left behind when it comes to pension literacy, especially when 20% of privately educated people learnt about pensions at school, compared to a vastly smaller 6% of those who were state educated. Fanclub PR ensured that Annuity Ready, the L&G subcompany directly involved, was wholly aligned to the campaign’s core issues, and partnered with a charity to find real case studies of people who suffered with their pensions.

Sarah O’Connor, Nonsensical
Sarah is Head of Communities over at Nonsensical, a UK-based TikTok agency that really is taking the platform by storm. Sarah is passionate about making social media and online marketing inclusive for everyone, and is particularly proud of Nonsensical’s ‘Endless Pride’ page, a TikTok account founded in 2022 (with over 450k followers!) designed to act as a safe space for an LGBTQ+ Gen Z audience.

The page creates a variety of content types, including news flashes, history-related content, events awareness and general LGBTQ±friendly and helpful information.

Robert Douglas, Hatch Films
Robert was nothing short of the ideal candidate for our discussion. He is the founder of Hatch Films, a not-for-profit production company focussed on cultivating talent from underrepresented backgrounds.

Hatch Films works with big brands to understand how they develop and nurture diverse talent, as well as to create content and make sure that that content is authentic to the audience they’re trying to reach.

Farhad Divecha, OUT Loud
Last, but certainly not least, we spoke to Farhad, founder and director and at OUT Loud, the largest global LGBTQ+ inclusive marketing agency. Farhad founded OUT Loud because he felt that Pride should be celebrated every day, not just once a year for commercial gain.

OUT Loud has the largest network and database of intersectional creators and influencers, audience members and publishers that identify as members of the LGBTQ+ community.

The Don’t’s

1. Don’t discuss causes that aren’t reflected in your own brand
As we’ve mentioned, inclusive marketing is something that all businesses should be considering. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that all attempts to be inclusive are successful, or more importantly authentic.

“Don’t shout about anything that isn’t authentic to your brand,” said Sarah. “If you’re a company with 99% straight white men then don’t start jumping on campaigns that don’t reflect that.”

It’s important to remember than in an era of digital intelligence, consumers and audience members are quick to find out whether a company’s ethos and staff makeup reflect the values that they’re pushing.

2. Don’t ignore the ‘what’s next’ after an inclusive marketing campaign

Nobody is free from backlash online: especially not big brands whose audience reach is typically wider than average. Diversity remains a relatively divisive topic, and so it’s likely that any inclusive marketing campaign will be subject to disagreement and online hate.

Robert asserted that “before putting content out, brands need to look at what the backlash could be, […] who is working on that campaign, and who do [they] need to protect.”

Making sure that those who are involved in the work are protected from potential backlash is just as important as the work itself, especially if the represented community is one which your employees are members of.

Sarah noted that it was important to establish how your brand will engage with responses to your campaign: “are you going to be a brand that deletes that comment, replies to that comment or ignores that comment?” Determining this before going public will protect those responding to the audience and ensure that they’re properly prepared to engage with both negative and positive comments.

“Make sure that your leadership is completely aligned and committed to the cause that you’re supporting,” added Adrian.

Bud Light lost around $300 million because of their silence after the Dylan Mulvaney campaign. Nike stayed committed to their Black Lives Matter cause and sales were boosted by $6bn.

3. Don’t lie about your workforce and the diversity within your organisation
We heard from Robert about the propensity of certain marketing managers to make requests for “diverse” video footage of their organisation. “If your event is diverse, if your customer base is diverse, if your employee groups are diverse, then the video and marketing will look diverse: it’s as simple as that,” he affirmed.

Farhad agreed with this point, adding that “brands looking at their in-house is a really important thing. If you’ve got dirty laundry, be careful what you go out there and preach.”

Essentially, if you’re not inclusive in your own organisation, and you’re not looking after your staff in this respect, and you go out there trying to make a stand, it’s not going to look great.

4. Don’t assume that just because you’ve got a diverse team that they’re able to speak up
A diverse workforce means a diverse range of skills and talents. But having a diverse workforce without allowing every member of the team to share their opinions and call out non-inclusive behaviour voids the authenticity of your diversity.

It’s the job of any employer to ensure that their workplace feeds a cohesive and inclusive environment, which in turn produces the best work. Working from the inside out is key with any marketing campaign that is looking at appealing to a more diverse audience.


At the end of our discussion, Robert made a particularly poignant comment: “you feel a lot more comfortable aiming to achieve what someone else who looks like you has achieved.”

In a such a diverse and multicultural society, it’s important that all marketers consider the impact of their work on their audience. Inclusion is the key to broadening the scope and reach of your business ventures: now more than ever consumers are looking to buy from companies whose views align with their own, and in whose employee- and consumer-base they can see themselves.

It can seem difficult to get right, but authenticity is the key here. We hope that the advice from our talented panelists can help in ensuring that both you and your audience can benefit from inclusive marketing.

Thanks especially to Adrian, Sarah, Farhad and Robert!

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