The Whole Picture (How advertising portrays a diverse Britain)

Posted on Sep 25, 2014

The Whole Picture is the advertising industry's response to changes in the ethnic profile of the UK.

The diversity and size of the UK's population is growing. Naturally, an increasing number of advertisements reflect this, and while there are those who think advertising should be required to reflect the UK's ethnic mix more accurately, we think that advertisers should want to. It's not only good for people, it's good for business.

"The Whole Picture is the advertising industry's response to changes in the ethnic profile of the UK. In this report we've attempted to reflect the views of a diverse population and give guidance to the industry on how best to reflect - and engage with - people from different backgrounds." Karen Fraser, Director, Credos

But reflecting diversity in an accurate and meaningful way can be a challenge. This research, by advertising's think tank Credos, hopes to shine a light on how advertisers can do just that. It asked people from different ethnic backgrounds what they currently think of diversity in UK advertising, and how we can work to improve it.

Qualitative research with 72 people, followed by a survey of 1,000 individuals informed the work, which found that:

  • Two thirds of people surveyed - across a range of ethnicities - believe companies and brands have a duty to embrace diversity and represent it in their ads
  • In particular, people from ethnic minorities see the positioning of their culture in advertisements as a barometer for what society thinks
  • 57% of white respondents think advertising represent's the UK's multicultural society - and 45% of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) respondents agree
  • But BAMEs think advertising should try harder to portray them and their lives more realistically. A move towards more thoughtful and informed portrayals will improve representation, and help brands succeed with different audiences