P&G and GLAAD Announce “The Visibility Project” and Release New Research to Advance LGBTQ Visibility in Advertising

Procter & Gamble (P&G) and GLAAD, the world’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) media advocacy organization, have announced The Visibility Project, a new campaign to drive and to sustain LGBTQ inclusion in ads and marketing and to leverage the power of these mediums to accelerate LGBTQ acceptance.

For more on the Visibility Project: http://glaad.org/visibility-project

For results of GLAAD and P&G’s ‘Advertiser & Agency Perspectives on LGBTQ Inclusion’ Study: http://www.glaad.org/2021inclusionstudy

The Visibility Project

With The Visibility Project, P&G and GLAAD will bring together the world’s top brands and ad agencies working to advance LGBTQ inclusion in ads, creating and providing tools, techniques and resources for industry executives, and harnessing the power of advertising to accelerate LGBTQ acceptance.

While LGBTQ inclusion in advertising is expanding, a 2020 study by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media found only 1.8% of characters in ads from the annual Cannes Lions festival were LGBTQ – a decrease of .1% from the previous year. P&G and GLAAD research released today, based on interviews with advertising executives, found that advertisers are concerned with backlash from the community when inclusion misses the mark. The research shows a strong need for tools, resources, and best practices when inclusion occurs.

Phase one of The Visibility Project will focus on recruiting Fortune 100 advertisers to sign on as partners and collaborate on a blueprint for LGBTQ inclusion in advertising that ensures brands and companies prioritize impact, as well as accurate and authentic representation. The GLAAD Media Institute, comprised of a team of consultants who enhance LGBTQ representation across media, will then work with partner companies to consult on inclusion in ads, as well as overcoming internal barriers for increasing LGBTQ inclusion.

Based on learnings from the first stage, The Visibility Project will develop and launch industry best practices and thought leadership that inspire and compel other brands to grow inclusion in their own ads and in the industry as a whole. In addition to partnering with GLAAD on the recruitment and education stages, P&G will initially commit more than $1 million over three years to launch, grow and sustain The Visibility Project.

For more about joining The Visibility Project, visit http://glaad.org/Visibility-Project.

“Equality is not only a top priority at P&G – it’s a responsibility,” said P&G Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard. “As one of the world’s largest advertisers, we’re committed to using our voice and reach to increase visibility of the LGBTQ+ community in advertising and media. We strive for accurate portrayal and will continue to take a stand to eliminate bias and advance equality. Through The Visibility Project, we hope to learn more about the unique needs of the LGBTQ+ community in order to elevate their visibility in our content and communication.”

The Visibility Project is P&G’s most significant program aimed at inspiring the next generation of LGBTQ advertising leaders and corporate advocates. The project is a natural next step in P&G’s commitment to producing content and research that will encourage advertisers and media to drive a more inclusive, accepting culture by accurately and authentically representing LGBTQ people.

“LGBTQ Inclusion in Advertising and Media, Advertiser and Agency Perspectives” Study

As part of The Visibility Project’s launch, P&G and GLAAD also announced findings from the “LGBTQ Inclusion in Advertising and Media, Advertiser and Agency Perspectives” study. Conducted in February 2021, the study is based on responses from 200 marketing and advertising executives: 100 business to consumer (B2C) advertisers with budgets of $50 million to over $1 billion, and 100 agencies representing clients with B2C media budgets of $15 million to $1 billion.

The P&G and GLAAD study showed that marketing and ad executives are more concerned about the risks of inauthentic representation and response from the LGBTQ community than with a public backlash for including LGBTQ people.

  • 81% of Advertisers and 41% of Agencies agree that “an inauthentic execution of LGBTQ people and scenarios would lead to a larger backlash than not featuring them in ads at all.”
  • 78% of Advertisers and “31% of Agencies agree “it is difficult to adequately represent the LGBTQ community because the community is complicated and has many nuances.”
  • 61% of Advertisers and 28% of Agencies agree they are “fearful of public backlash for including LGBTQ people in advertising.”

Both marketing and advertising executives are aligned in their recognition of the important social impact of responsible and authentic LGBTQ representation.

  • 61% of Advertisers and 60% of Agencies strongly agree that companies that feature LGBTQ people and scenarios in advertising are “helping consumers understand and respect LGBTQ people.”
  • 56% of Advertisers and 60% of Agencies strongly agree that companies that feature LGBTQ people and scenarios in their advertising are “companies that value all kinds of diversity.”
  • 56% of Advertisers and 55% of Agencies strongly agree that companies that feature LGBTQ people and scenarios in their advertising are “companies that are supportive of LGBTQ rights.”

The findings reveal agencies are more supportive and accepting of LGBTQ inclusion, poising them for a stronger advocacy role.

  • While 55% of Agencies agree completely that featuring LGBTQ people and scenarios is supported by their top management, just 39% of Advertisers said the same.
  • Only 33% of Advertisers and 46% of Agencies are very likely to recommend using LGBTQ people and scenarios is the company’s or client’s advertising.
  • In assessing their own organization’s existing culture, 52% of Agencies and 36% of Advertisers rate their culture as “very accepting and inclusive of all communities.”

The research summary and additional findings, available here, point to a need for better resources to create ads, which The Visibility Project will develop with its partners.

“While there is broad understanding of the fact that inclusion of authentic LGBTQ representation in advertising promotes positive social change, we first must transform corporate cultures and secure commitments from top management to create meaningful inclusion,” said GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. “The Visibility Project marks a new milestone in GLAAD’s important work with P&G to grow LGBTQ inclusion in the world of advertising and leverage the power of ads to create change and acceptance. During this pivotal moment when brands are stepping up and stepping out on social issues, the inclusion of LGBTQ people and issues is a major opportunity and responsibility.”

The launch of the Visibility Project and this new research builds on the impact of P&G and GLAAD’s 2020 “LGBTQ Inclusion in Advertising and Media”, the first-ever study that measured how non-LGBTQ Americans respond to LGBTQ representation in television, films and advertising.

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