Getting diversity right on Influencer Marketing campaigns can be tricky. So, how can you ensure you hit a home run? Instead of reinventing the wheel, check out the best of the best inclusive marketing campaign examples. The brands that are featured have creativity and inclusivity that will get your wheels spinning and guide you on the right path as you put your own spin on creative and DEI-friendly campaigns.
This post is part of a 7-part series on diversity, equity, and inclusion in Influencer Marketing. Check out the other articles to learn (DEI) Definitions, The Difference Between DEI and Inclusive and Multicultural Marketing, and The Case for Inclusive Marketing. Additionally, get tips on How to Create Inclusive and Multicultural Marketing Campaigns. Finally, discover 7 Mistakes to Avoid in Diversity Influencer Marketing. Want to get the goods all in one place? Download our eBook on Everything You Need to Know About Diversity in Influencer Marketing.
7 Brands Leading the Way With Their Inclusive Marketing Campaign Examples
Inclusive marketing describes campaigns that embrace diversity, not only based on skin color or gender, but also of people with different backgrounds and stories. Why is diversity important, especially in marketing? Diversity is always the right choice because it’s good for humankind. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to accomplish. Looking at Inclusive Marketing campaign examples can be super helpful.
“With successful inclusive marketing campaigns, marketers aim to break advertising norms by highlighting people or groups that might be under- or misrepresented, such as people of color, those who identify as LGBTQ+, those who affiliate with various religions, those who are disabled, or even people of certain ages and genders. But, inclusive marketing isn’t always easy to do right. An inclusive or thought-provoking campaign takes time, effort, and careful thought to be successful.” [source]
Let’s be clear: DEI in Influencer Marketing is not just about picking the proper stock image or checking boxes that you are working with influencers of different skin tones. Getting DEI right requires many steps from strategy and planning to execution in the campaign process. As Google noted in a recent post,
“Diverse marketing isn’t just a box you can tick. There are so many layers to diversity beyond gender or skin color. It’s also about age. Geography. Socio-economic diversity. Relatable jobs. Abilities. Sexuality.” [source]
But, what does proper DEI look like in an Influencer Marketing campaign? Let’s take a closer look at seven brands and their Inclusive Marketing campaign examples.
1. Athleta Encourages Open Conversations and Acceptance
As an athletic apparel brand, Athleta focuses on inclusivity. The company is made up of a “team of athletes, designers, and innovators of all shapes and sizes committed to celebrating the power of women and girls everywhere.” The brand recently launched a new line in partnership with Alicia Keys, “an award-winning singer-songwriter and an accomplished actress, author and entrepreneur who is known for empowering women through female-focused anthems like ‘Girl on Fire’ and her work as an activist.”
Instead of focusing solely on creating inclusive athletic wear for all shapes and sizes, the campaign was aimed at empowering women and girls through movement and connection. According to Keys, “We’re all about the uniqueness of women, body positivity and creating a lifestyle that showcases our immeasurable power within. It’s time to thrive — not just to survive — and my hope is that these offerings are another outlet for you to amplify your personal power, your possibility and feel comfortable in your own skin.” [source]
The brand believes that “our whole is infinitely stronger than our parts. And that whole is made up of all women—all ages, races, ethnicities, identities, sizes, and abilities.” [source] To hone is on this idea and help spread the word, the brand featured a sit down with Keys and a few women to talk about their journeys toward self-love and total well-being.
One of the women featured was Marsha, a singer-songwriter and speaker, who inspires thousands with her bright, relatable energy and self-love journey. She was “born with proximal femoral focal deficiency, a rare birth defect that caused her to lose the lower half of her leg. Fast-forward to now, and she’s a body positive icon working towards a nursing degree.” [source]
What We Love
Instead of just focusing on clothing, Athleta successfully implemented DEI internally and externally. Namely, in their Influencer Marketing efforts. Offering inclusive clothing, partnering with a singer-songwriter who inspires self-love, and allowing women to have heartfelt conversations led to influencers and consumers connecting via open conversations. The result? True belonging and acceptance, not to mention ROI.
2. Forever 21 Involves Creators in the Influencer Marketing Process
Forever 21’s former CEO, Daniel Kulle, made a commitment to amplify and provide opportunities to underrepresented communities. In 2021, Forever 21 collaborated with three Black creators (Ashley Sky Walker, Henry R. Jones, and Stormy Nesbit) to launch its first-ever Black History Month-inspired line. The activation was also Forever 21’s first large-scale omnichannel campaign.
The limited-edition clothing line was a “groundbreaking collection showcasing the range, beauty, and power of artistic expression.”
“As the struggle to end systemic racism continues, this collection has a particularly emotional resonance. The striking artwork, visible on each item, was designed by the creatives who were fully immersed in the entire process. As Nesbit shared with us over email, ‘Forever 21 allowed me to create from my heart and present my most authentic self without any reservations, so my excitement is an understatement.’” [source]
What We Love
As part of the brand’s largest campaign, efforts centered around black creators with the proceeds donated to the creators’ communities. Forever 21 generated invaluable social proof, showing their authenticity while allowing creators to be part of the Influencer Marketing process.
3. Google Takes a Hard Look at Their DEI Practice’s Outward Appearance
Google is not just about picking the proper stock image, checking the diversity box, and being done with it. In a 2018 post, Lorraine Twohill, Chief Marketing Officer at Google, revealed that Google wanted to determine the level and quality of diversity in its campaigns. Thanks to the help of a machine and experts at the Geena Davis Institute, the task force analyzed diversity in the brand’s campaigns related to race, gender, and socioeconomics.
“Our images had lots of racial diversity. But everyone looked like they worked in tech and lived in hip, urban neighborhoods,” said Twohill. “My team brought me a new campaign to review. Dad was cooking in the kitchen. Great! I was proud that they had flipped a stereotype,” she explains. “But the next image showed he was there because mom was in the hospital having a baby. Sorry, dad, but we had to reshoot. Mom was away because she was on a business trip.”
In order to fully address the issue, Google launched a diversity training program to help tackle diversity issues within campaigns and to be more aware. According to Twohill, “90% of her team and 200 agency partners have taken this course. As a result, Google began to launch even more thought-provoking campaigns.”
“Inclusive marketing is not only our responsibility, but an opportunity. Not just for Google, but for any company that wants to make a positive contribution to how we see ourselves and treat each other. By eliminating harmful stereotypes and portraying historically underrepresented communities, we have a chance to reach and deepen relationships with both new and existing users. We are still just getting started. In creating this site, and through our collaboration with our partners, we know we can do even more to improve representation and belonging in our work and in our workplace. But to create work that authentically reflects the world – we need to be all in.”—Raphael Diallo, Inclusive Marketing Lead at Google [source]
What We Love
Google took a good hard look at their organization and, thanks to the inward examination, realized that their campaigns were not DEI-friendly. They course corrected and now, Google is spreading messages that are trustworthy and in support of its followers.
4. Jelly Belly Gum Encourages Influencer Creativity
Getting DEI right requires many steps from strategy and planning to execution in the Influencer Marketing process. When a brand comes to Forward Influence and asks that we focus on diversity, we invite a broad group of influencers to participate in the brand’s or client’s campaigns in line with the brands’ buyer persona. Just one of many inclusive Marketing campaign examples was Jelly Belly Gum.
When Jelly Belly Gum came for help executing a TikTok campaign, they requested that the influencers represent a wide range of influencers with diverse backgrounds and interests. So, we got to work contracting with creators who made the campaign DEI-friendly. In addition to working with a group of diverse influencer partners (in a variety of forms of diversity: age, gender, sexual attraction, body size, etc.), the campaign trusted the influencers with the creative license to create content that spoke to them and their respective audiences.
One of the key benefits of partnering with influencers is that every one of them has a unique style in speaking, creating, and presenting. Their overall vibe is one of the reasons people follow them in the first place.
“[Influencers] understand their voice, demographics, community, and other aspects that you just can’t grasp as much as they can. They know what works and doesn’t across the board, which can help with avoiding a disingenuous message that individuals can sense immediately.” — Dan “IDSHOCK”, Director of Marketing and Partnerships at Webaround Gaming [source]
What We Love
Knowing that each influencer in the campaign had a different look, vibe, and angle, Jelly Belly Gum embraced diversity and gave them creative freedom. The creators were each given the same requirements but were not asked to follow the same creative direction. Instead, they were encouraged to be themselves The result was a campaign full of TikTok shares that were authentic and influential, driving 16+ million impressions.
5.) Nordstrom Challenges the Norms
A brand that is constantly setting the stage for a picture-perfect, DEI-friendly campaign is Nordstrom. Seen as a thought leader in the DEI space, the brand strives to break down gender stereotypes, as well as challenge the norms of fashion and society. In a recent campaign, the brand’s line, BP (a Nordstrom Made brand designed for young adults) partnered with WILDFANG, an apparel company known for challenging gender norms. Emma Mcilroy, CEO and Founder of WILDFANG, said, “At WILDFANG, we believe that the fashion industry has clung to outdated gender norms for far too long. We are challenging the idea that women have to dress a certain way, act a certain way or have a certain type of job. We are working hard to make the industry more inclusive with every element of our partnership with Nordstrom.” [source]
What We Love
As part of the partnership, the brands enlisted the help of six TikTok influencers who created a total of 12 posts. In addition to spreading the word about these important messages, Nordstrom gave five percent of the total sales to Year Up to “create a workforce development program that provides space and opportunity for Black, LatinX and Queer communities, while also developing a systemic pathway for new talent to come into the fashion industry through its own Nordstrom Made brands.”[source]
6. Verizon Redefines the General Market
For Father’s Day in 2021, Verizon decided to redefine the market and launch a localized approach. Knowing that more than 66 percent of the population in Miami is full of Spanish speakers, the brand partnered with Miami-based Spanish-speaking influencers to promote offers.
Consumers appreciate brands when they are authentic. Instead of putting out a blanket statement to [hopefully] appease everyone in their ads, Verizon made data-driven decisions to reach specific audiences.
“The United States is diversifying even faster than predicted with now 4 in 10 Americans identifying with a race or ethnic group other than white. This is amplified even further among younger groups beyond racial identity as 1 in 6 Gen Z adults identifies as LGBTQIA+. What does this mean for marketers? The antiquated notion of a ‘general market’ target that is non-diverse is quickly being replaced by tailored brand strategies that take into account the unique consumer mindsets of various groups from acculturated Hispanic Americans to first-generation Asian Americans.” [source]
According to Influencer Marketing Hub:
“Brands that do not incorporate diversity within their Influencer Marketing mix are losing out on invaluable opportunities amongst underrepresented communities to show themselves reflected in media. 61% of people find information from ‘a person like me’ to be credible. A Magnetic North study in 2019 found that white influencers were receiving 61% of sponsorship opportunities. This shows a significant decrease from the 73% in 2015. These stats highlight the paradigm shift towards diverse representation within the influencer marketing space.”
What We Love
Brands must shift plans, analyze data, and learn how to redefine the “general market” like Verizon, especially if they want to market strategically while supporting underrepresented groups.
7. Walmart Goes Beyond Skin Tone and Gender Identity
When people think of DEI, race is one of the first things that comes to mind followed closely by skin tone and gender identity. But, the definition of DEI includes so much more than that. Diversity in Influencer Marketing means that you invite a broad group of influencers to participate in your brand’s or client’s campaigns. Depending on what the data says and who the campaign’s target market is, you would want to include creators from different:
- Races or minority groups
- Ethnicities or cultures
- Religious beliefs or practices
- Socioeconomic statuses
Additionally, diversity reflects influencers with different:
- Body shapes and sizes
- Gender identity
- Sexual orientations
- Abilities (physical, emotional, learning, etc.)
- Levels (macro to nano)
Knowing that food, family, culture, stories, language, and many more factors contribute to diversity, Walmart created a DEI-friendly campaign that embraced the importance of family and food in Hispanic and Black communities. They asked foodie and family-oriented influencers to share family holiday traditions and recipes with Walmart ingredients. Since a majority of people do their shopping for household items and holiday gifts at Walmart, the campaign also helped place the store at the forefront of minds when needing grocery items for the holiday season.
What We Love
Walmart strategically looked beyond traditional marketing during the Influencer Marketing process. By analyzing the market and creating a tailored approach, the content that was produced was a welcome breath of fresh air, especially during the busy holiday season.
Wrapping It All Up
While representation is important, diversity in the Influencer Marketing process is about much more than skin color or just checking a quota box. Learning DEI definitions and how they relate to your Influencer Marketing campaigns is a great first step. Visiting the links in the “Next Steps” section below to help fully understand DEI in Influencer Marketing is another step in the right direction. But, to really nail your Influencer Marketing activations, pay attention to Inclusive Marketing campaign examples. The brands we highlighted above as part of our lineup of inclusive marketing campaign examples can help speed up your process in landing your next sure-to-be-successful campaign.
Namely, their examples teach us to:
- Encourage open conversations and acceptance.
- Involve creators in the Influencer Marketing process.
- Take a hard look at your brand’s DEI outward appearance.
- Encourage influencer creativity.
- Challenge the norms.
- Redefine the General Market.
- Go beyond skin tone and gender identity.
Want to learn more about diversity in Influencer Marketing?
- Learn The Difference Between DEI and Inclusive and Multicultural Marketing.
- Make The Case for Inclusive Marketing
- Get tips on How to Create Inclusive and Multicultural Marketing Campaigns.
- Discover 7 Mistakes to Avoid in Diversity Influencer Marketing.
- Download our eBook on Everything You Need to Know About Diversity in Influencer Marketing