Representation And Inclusivity In Marketing Matter

Show the world as it is: diverse, colorful, and inclusive.

Representation and inclusivity matter, and it isn’t just a slogan we all enthusiastically nod to when hearing.

Now let’s unpack that a bit—because not all representation is created equal, getting it right is not just a formality, all this means so much more than just ticking the ‘right’ box.

Just in case you missed it, our society is buzzing with movements fighting for equality and representation. These movements have advocated for the rights of members of our communities, regardless of their race, sexuality, religion, nationality, and economic status. But what does activism have to do with advertising? Well, pretty much everything.

Kantar says it best, the very best creative cannot only sell products and build brand equity, but it can also change behaviors and shape society.”

Remember when Cosmopolitan U.K. featured plus-size model Tess Holliday on their cover back in 2018? It was more than a cover; it was a conversation starter about body positivity that resonated deeply with many.

When brands effectively mirror their audience in their marketing visuals, they aren’t just filling a quota but building bridges. People want to see real versions of themselves, or who they aspire to be, in the brands they love. It sends an empowering message: “This space is for you!” But miss that mark, and the message very quickly shifts to, “This isn’t for you,” pushing them away and prompting them to look elsewhere.

Check this out: a 2019 Google survey done in partnership with the Female Quotient & Ispos found that 71% of LGBTQIA+ customers and 67% of ethnic customers are more likely to notice an ad that they feel represents them.


Build bridges, not barriers!

Understanding the impact

Let’s start from the beginning. What does this whole thing mean? Representation in marketing makes sure that people from all backgrounds, ethnicities, and walks of life see themselves reflected in the campaigns and advertisements they run into. It’s basically all about recognizing that your audience is made up of different groups of people.

What about inclusivity? Inclusive marketing considers diversity in all forms: age, appearance, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, language, socio-economic status, religion/spirituality, and physical/mental ability. Inclusion in marketing makes sure that diverse individuals are not just represented but also an integral part of creating and developing marketing campaigns.

And the stakes are so incredibly high. How high? Well, 74% of consumers feel a much stronger loyalty to brands that showcase relatable visuals, according to the 2021 State of Representation in Marketing study

But we still have a long way to go!

Let’s take the U.K. as an example, with communities often labeled as minorities—such as LGBTQIA+, Black, Asian, and disabled people—now making up a whooping 38% of the population. 

Even we’re talking about an absolute mosaic of cultures, the advertising and marketing worlds still sticks to a very outdated script. The core issue is a long-standing need for better representation and the belief that we can address issues specific to marginalized groups without involving them in the conversation. And isn’t this extremely wrong?

Now let’s dial into the crucial economic insight researched by McKinsey & Company: diversity isn’t just morally the right thing to do; it’s actually also a competitive advantage. Their studies show that companies with diverse executive teams are 36% more likely to outshines their peers. Why? Because a mix of different perspectives fuels smarter decision-making and sparks innovation.

And hey, here’s something else to chew on: according to Entrepreneur, 62% of consumers say that inclusivity influences how they see a brandThat’s right—when your brand embraces inclusivity, people noticeand they talk. 

What we need is to go ahead and flip the outdated script!

So, if you’re diving into the diversity pool with your marketing efforts—fantastic! It’s a noble pursuit, but it’s also critical you get it right. Otherwise, your brand’s message may be viewed as simply “woke-washing.” This term gets tossed around when companies use diversity as just a flashy badge rather than embedding it into the heart of their strategies and actual meaningful action.

True representation shares real stories and real experiences.

Casting and culture

Authentic representation in advertising is all about getting two essential elements just right: casting and culture. Let’s break it down.

Relying solely on casting? That can easily slip into tokenism, giving the appearance of inclusivity rather than making it a genuine part of the narrative. 

Now, swinging to the other side and focusing only on cultural elements without the right casting? That can open the door for appropriation territory. It’s like using cultural symbols without understanding their significance or having the people who represent that culture front and center. It feels off, right?

The ideal is where casting meets culture. When we marry authentic representation in the casting with deep and respectful integration of cultural elements.

Reflect the faces and voices of all communities.

Inclusive marketing campaigns

Inclusive marketing isn’t just a trend born in 2024—it’s a transformative action that reshapes how brands connect with their very diverse audiences. There’s no universal blueprint for hitting it right in this arena, but a few strategies can make a huge impact:

  • First, mix up your visuals. This means showcasing a variety of models on your website, in your ads, and across social media posts. It’s more than just appearances; it’s about reflecting the real world of your audience in every piece of content you put out there. Celebrate different cultures, bodies, backgrounds, and stories through the content you produce, making everyone feel seen, validated, and valued.
  • Language matters, too. You can use gender-neutral terms and carefully craft messages that steer clear of stereotypes. The words you choose can either open doors or shut them. Make sure you invite everyone in by using inclusive messaging that resonates warmly with all corners of your audience segments.
  • Get involved with diverse communities. Collaborate with nonprofits that advocate for underrepresented groups. Participate in cultural events that celebrate inclusivity. Show real support for all communities!

Let inclusivity drive your creative decisions.

Representation means more than photos

Let’s get one thing straight: simply sprucing up your visuals is just the beginning, but true inclusivity passes through every layer of your brand, from the products you design and the team you build to the content you broadcast. Make sure everything your brand touches celebrates and respects diversity.

When considering the content created, whether it’s who you include in your visuals, the guests you feature on your podcast, or the influencers you work with, build a content plan that allows your target audience to see a piece of themselves in what you create, making your brand truly relatable and very much inclusive.

Think about it: does your content reflect the whole spectrum of your audience? Are the voices on your podcast as diverse as the community you serve? Are you engaging voices that resonate authentically with different groups? Mirror the real world!

Representation must tell a real story

The stories you share about people from underrepresented groups must be genuine and respectful—not just recycled stereotypes. As you weave representation into the very essence of your brand, align it closely with these communities’ real experiences and aspirations. This means engaging directly with them to understand their perspectives and incorporating their voices authentically into your brand’s messaging. Make it meaningful. Make it resonate. Make it a catalyst for change and elevate the discourse in your industry! Create content that makes a difference!

Intention really matters

Lgbt Pride GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Let’s also address the massive elephant in the room: “pinkwashing” (find some examples here), “greenwashing” (examples here), and “virtue signaling.” These are the absolute pitfalls you need to avoid. Authenticity means advocating for LGBTQIA+ rights, body positivity, environmental issues, and other social causes all year round, not just when it’s trending on TikTok. Real commitment shines through continuous, genuine support—not just seasonal campaigns.

Celebrate diversity!

Representation and inclusion are the present and future of marketing. Embrace them fully, weave them sincerely into your campaigns, and watch as they transform and reshape not just your brand, but the whole community around it.

And if you ever find yourself in need of a helping hand in mastering your representation and inclusivity journey for your brand, just think of us at JOCstudio as your buddies. Feel free to reach out to us at or fill out this form, and we’ll swoop in to save the day – cape and all!

If you want to talk some more, we’re waiting for your DM on Instagram.

Your biggest fan,
Oana Corina Jelea.



The Big Cheese know-it-all
A lot of brand strategy and storytelling, with a sweet tooth for social media marketing. Glued to her phone, juggling posts, emails, pursuing a Ph.D. in 'Environmental Science,' and surviving on minimal sleep. Always open to discussing ethical responsibility, especially after a couple of glasses of wine. Find her on LinkedIn, Instagram and

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