According to a recent study by GLAAD, only 1.8% of characters in ads at the Cannes Lions festival were LGBTQ+ showing that LGBTQ+ inclusion is increasing everywhere but advertising.
Why is this important? According to the Annual Population Survey (2020) 2.2% of adults over the age of 16 in the UK identify as LGB, that's at least 1.2million people. 1.2 million people who's lives are not being reflected in the media they consume every day.
As part of our Brand champions pledge we are driving to make a change when it comes to the use of more diverse characters, we're raising conversations with the brands and agencies we work with to bring diverse and inclusive thinking into their strategies and content.
Whilst researching, we came across a foundation called Lullaby Trust, and we loved what they're doing with their wide range of images reflecting all family types. So we caught up with them to learn about why this is important to them...
Who are Lullaby Trust and how did you come about?
The Lullaby Trust originally formed as The Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths (FSID) in 1971. In 2013, after research among parents and our supporters, we rebranded to become The Lullaby Trust.
We provide emotional support for bereaved families, promote expert advice on safer baby sleep and raise awareness of sudden infant death (SIDS).
The work we have done has resulted in a drop of more than 80% in SIDS since 1991, saving the lives of around 27,000 babies. We have invested over £12million in SIDS research and provided support to thousands of bereaved families.
2021 marks 50 years since The Lullaby Trust began. In our first 50 years, we have achieved a significant reduction in SIDS and are committed to reducing the number of baby and child deaths even further.
We love the diverse imagery that Lullaby Trust uses within their communities, tell us why this is an important factor for the trust...
As an organisation, we have always tried to be here for everyone who needs us, and to try and reach out to everyone. We have taken a step back and looked at ourselves in the past year, and realised that we need to do more to engage with a wider range of different communities in every aspect of our work.
We are committed to be as diverse and inclusive as we can. Diversity is also a top priority for our CEO, Jenny Ward. Although as a staff team we are very diverse, as part of our Diversity and Inclusion Plan we have identified that we don’t know enough about the people who are central to how we run. To consider how we might improve, Jenny commissioned a survey to find out more about everyone who is involved with the charity to help us understand how we can be more representative of the communities we need to reach. We have a number of actions already identified from this.
In terms of images we use across our social media channels, we strive to be inclusive and are fortunate to have a solid supporter base who provide excellent feedback. We have recently created a panel for new and expectant parents and one for bereaved families, and in recruiting to these we asked for specific groups to come forward. Although we are still in the early stages, we are particularly keen to get feedback from under-represented groups including: Single parents, Adoptive parents, foster parents/carers, guardians, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic families, LGBTQ+ families, parents with disabilities and families with lived experience of poverty.
What role do you think organisations, such as yourselves, have to play in normalising all family types within advertising and social platforms?
Charities need to reflect the people they support and serve. At The Lullaby Trust, a huge part of the work we do involves supporting new families and making sure that anyone who cares for a baby has access to up-to-date safer sleep advice. Therefore, it’s vital that the messages and images we put out on social media appropriately reflect all family types that need this advice. If people see themselves represented in our advice and imagery, they are more likely to engage with it.
Showing diverse imagery on our social media doesn’t just help make advice and support more accessible. Consistent use of diverse and inclusive imagery will help further normalise all family types on social media and in wider society in general, as well as showing these families that they are just as valid and entitled to support as everyone else.
What sort of feedback do you get from your audience about your imagery?
Our imagery includes portraying diverse family types and families and carers from different backgrounds and ethnicities to represent the diverse society we live in. A few of the comments we received via social media called for using imagery depicting same sex couples, so we produced images showing two dads and two mums, which have been very popular and well received.
As part of our ongoing commitment to improving the diversity of our imagery, it was noted that we do not currently have any images depicting parents with disabilities. We have since commissioned a new batch of images that include parents with disabilities and hope to publish these on our social media channels very soon.
We are determined to be more diverse and inclusive as a team and in our work, and our door (well, phone and social media channels) are always open - we listen, learn and implement feedback and turn those into action.
Here at Brand Champions, we know there is more that we can be doing to be proactively driving conversations with our clients and our agencies and this is why we find the work from the Lullaby Trust so inspiring. People fear doing things wrong and therefore end up doing nothing at all which is even worse, so we pledge to make a difference and you can read more about our pledge here.