Advertisement
SXSW

A New Survey Looks at the Growing Demand for Diversity in How Ads Portray Families

Parents applaud (and reward) brands that reflect reality

Tylenol's "How We Family" campaign from JWT Tylenol YouTube: Tylenol

We all know by now that the American family looks a lot different than it used to. Whether defined by LGBT parents, nonmarried parents or stay-at-home dads, two out of five households today do not fit the traditional mold, notes a new report, "Family Diversity Is the Norm," from YouGov and Johnson & Johnson-owned parenting site BabyCenter.

But exactly what does that mean for brand marketers? Just as the makeup of families has changed, so have the ads targeted to them.

"For brands, the good news is that there's lower risk when stepping into this territory," said Ted Marzilli, CEO of YouGov BrandIndex, noting that 80 percent of parents say they like seeing diverse families in ads. (The report also found that 60 percent of parents say a brand that respects all kinds of families is an important factor in their purchasing decisions.) But, it's not just enough to show diverse families in ads. "You have to be authentic," Marzilli pointed out.

Among the campaigns depicting people outside the cookie-cutter casting call that were singled out by the report: "This Is Wholesome" from Mondelez's Honey Maid, "Learning Sign Language" from Wells Fargo and "Like a Girl" from Procter & Gamble's Always.

"This is something marketers can't ignore," said Julie Michaelson, head of global sales for BabyCenter. "The real trick, though, is, how do they do it right? How do they navigate this new reality of the American family to help them make stronger connections with today's parents and tomorrow's parents as well?"

The question will be addressed during two panel discussions on March 12 at South by Southwest Interactive in Austin, Texas: "Media's New American Family: No Norman Rockwell" and "The Scariest Word in Brand Advertising: Family."

See below for more insights from the report: 

  • 80 percent of parents say they like seeing diverse families in advertising.
  • 66 percent of parents say a brand that respects all types of families is an important factor in their purchasing decisions.
  • 41 percent of millennial parents agree that they are more likely to purchase products from brands that use more diverse family types in their advertising.
  • 70 percent  of millennial parents have chosen not to purchase something because they don't believe in what the company stands for
  • Two out of three parents agree: a brand that realistically reflects parenting today is an important factor in their purchasing decisions.
  • Three out of four parents agree: a brand that shares my values is an important factor in their purchasing decisions.
  • 60 percent of single parents say the growing variety of family types is a good thing. However, 27 percent say it doesn't make a difference, and 13 percent say it's a bad thing.
  • 52 percent of moms agreed that they pay more attention to ads that feature an image of a real mom (rather than actors or models). This number is even higher among millennial moms (57 percent).
  • 61 percent of parents agree that "brands tend to claim to support causes that are popular regardless of whether they are making an authentic commitment to that cause."
  • 57 percent of parents agree: "Once I find a brand or product I love, I'll tell my friends about it on social media."
  • 50 percent agree: "I follow brands I am loyal to on social media."
  • 49 percent of Millennial parents agree they would be more likely to talk to their friends about a product if the brand used more diverse family types in their advertising.
  • 87 percent of parents agree society is becoming more accepting of different types of families.
  • 84 percent parents agree "as long as there's love and support, any family structure can succeed."
 

This story first appeared in the March 7 issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Adweek Blog Network