Ad Watchers: How Can You Ensure Your DEI Efforts Are Authentic?

December 21, 2022

AdWatchers: Diversity and Inclusion


As the expectation for representation has continued to rise, advertisers are turning to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) efforts to ensure everyone feels seen. The National Advertising Division (NAD) recognizes the significance of authenticity in these diverse depictions and will be enforcing new standards to hold companies accountable when they endorse harmful stereotypes in their advertisements. 

Hosts Eric and Annie are joined by the President/CEO of Casanova//McCann, Ingrid Otero Smart, to discuss the secrets to avoiding typecasts and tokenism when depicting diverse cultures. Listen now to understand the key components of a truly inclusive DEI campaign.



Related Resources

Expanding Accountability for DEIB in National Advertising

CARU Advertising Guidelines

Ad Watchers: When Are Advertisers Responsible for Consumer Ratings and Reviews?



Show Notes

00:00 – As business owners, we want our customers to feel seen and heard. We want each customer to connect with us in a meaningful way, regardless of their background or experience. Luckily, there is an easy way to ensure that happens: by creating inclusive messages and advertisements. That is why DEIB efforts are so important. DEIB stands for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging. As companies turn their focus to inclusive messaging in their communications, it has emerged as a cornerstone for business and HR strategies. By being mindful of the language we use and how it’s presented visually, companies have the power to send a message of inclusion and acceptance—something potential buyers will not soon forget!  

00:58 – In this episode, Eric Unis, Senior Attorney at the National Advertising Division (NAD), and his colleague Annie Ugurlayan, NAD’s Assistant Director, are joined by Ingrid Otero-Smart, President and CEO at Casanova//McCann. Casanova//McCann is one of the leading Hispanic integrated communications agencies in the U.S. With over 35 years of experience. The company is headquartered in Costa Mesa, CA with offices in NY, Detroit, and Dallas. 

01:35 – Eric and Annie begin the episode by discussing a few updates, starting with the Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU), which leads the development and ongoing management of advertising guidelines for children under the age of 13. To help businesses and advertisers comply, CARU provides education, one-on-one support, and legal guidance on proper content delivery for an impressionable and vulnerable child audience, data collection guidelines, and more. Recently,  CARU made revisions to the guidelines to include diversity and inclusion language into its list of inappropriate advertising, holding advertisers accountable for negative social stereotyping, prejudice, or discrimination.  

01:59 – Next, they discuss NAD’s recent announcement about expanding its standards going forward. The National Advertising Division recognizes its responsibility to address advertising that is misleading or inaccurate as a result of  negative stereotyping, prejudice, or discrimination, and will begin addressing misleading and harmful stereotypes in advertising. 

03:26 – In 2021, The World Federation of Advertisers conducted a global DEI census to examine insights about fairness and sense of belonging for over 10,000 advertising industry professionals in 27 countries. This report stressed the importance of diversity and inclusion in all areas of the marketing industry. 

06:54 – Eric then introduces special guest Ingrid of Cassanova//McCann. Interested in Ingrid’s creative process, Eric asks her how she approaches creating authentic communications. She says the key to connection within the Latino community is culturally relevant messaging and an understanding of the different nuances of language.  

13:48 – When it comes to advertising and marketing, it’s important to consider the cultural context of the audience that you’re trying to reach. What might be regarded as funny or clever in one culture could be offensive in another. In order to create effective and culturally relevant messaging, it’s imperative to understand the nuances of language and how they can be interpreted. 

15:32 – Ingrid also adds that she does not want to reinvent people’s brands. Instead, she says, the goal is to take the brand, and reshape the messaging to make it more relevant to their target market. 

18:59 – Eric takes this opportunity to ask Ingrid how new media has changed her work. Ingrid responds by explaining that the changes in media have come with challenges, but her focus is largely to make it easier to communicate with others and have fun with the messaging. Though the ever-changing sphere of digital media presents new hurdles, it also allows for low-cost iterations of digital advertisements and options for non-profits to promote themselves at no cost on social media. She also notes that her team relies on deeper demographic and psychographic data than they previously would.  

20:47 – The hosts end the show with a final question: What trends regarding DEIB should we be looking out for? Ingrid responds stating that diverse hiring is something she looks out for. Recruiting a diverse team can help advertising agencies improve their messaging and stay ahead of trends by bringing in people with different backgrounds and perspectives. It can also give them a competitive edge in the marketplace. In fact, businesses that embrace gender diversity may be 21% more likely to outperform others on profitability. Diversity can help agencies create more innovative and effective campaigns, as well as better understand the changing demographics of their customers. 

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