Inclusiveness in marketing images

The goal of most marketing materials (websites, brochures and more) is to appeal to the target market and build a positive brand image.

Personally, I believe companies also have a social responsibility. Much marketing is seen by those well beyond the target market, and can influence the ways we see ourselves and each other. It also helps change or reinforce stereotypes, many of which could be unreasonable or unfair.

As such, in recent years, many companies are more consciously choosing the marketing images they use in their marketing materials. Some companies could perhaps use some more advice and attention.

There are of course many ways to analyse advertising materials, and there is much more to it than a simple snapshot. I also don’t intend to be overly pedantic or sensitive. However these few observations and examples can at least kickstart conversations and make us more aware of the type of images we, and our children, may be consuming, and the often subconscious affects here.

Kwikfit, the Netherlands

For many years, I’ve had my car serviced at Kwikfit, Delft in the Netherlands. As a woman, I’ve often felt quite uneducated and even unwelcome in these kind of traditionally male dominated mechanical environments. I’m sure that in several situations, I’ve been “ripped off” as we say in Australia due to my limited knowledge. This is a stereotype and situation I want to challenge, especially as the mother of two daughters. After all, no doubt just as many women drive cars as men. Why is much marketing for cars and related services still so male dominated? I’ve always felt very welcome at Kwikfit Delft, and their service is exellent and prices reasonable. However it would be nice to have some more balance in their marketing materials instead of white males

Sure, if you look at the statistics of mechanics, many probably are white males. Marketing materials though can either misrepresent or influence this stereotype. If a little girl interested in cars, who may potentially become a mechanic – never seeing images or representation of women in these roles can subconsiously influence this.

I looked at their website further: and there are a few images of people. Good to see a few different types of men represented. It’s hard to even have this conversation as I don’t want to “get it wrong” either – do I say of different skin tone? Black men? Different backgrounds?

I finally found one image of a woman. Great to see a female represented, though interestingly enough in the stereotype of a woman at a call centre.

So overall, I would hope that Kwikfit can, in the future, consider balancing out their images to be more inclusive at least with gender. Surely there must be a few female mechanics who could be represented? I’d love to know your thoughts on this.

Hornbach, the Netherlands

Moving on to another traditionally male-dominated industry, building centres. As a new home owner, and a single mum, I’ve spent quite a lot of time in this centre lately. Again, I’m disappointed I don’t know more about the many products in the aisles and find a great mix of both male and female staff, from young to older age range, to help me. This gives a great inclusive feel. Does their marketing images represent this this diversity?

Sadly on the front page of their website I counted 8 people, (or parts of people like hands), and again – ALL white males. However, I was thrilled to find this on my first click through:

I can’t even explain why it gets me excited to see a tough, older woman represented in this image. I guess, as a 45 year old woman, I like the instant visual idea that I, too, can still do a lot of STUFF like chopping wood for many years to come. Will I, and could I, even if Hornbach doesn’t share these kind of images? Of course. However this is the point I’m trying to make with this post – more inclusiveness in marketing images gives me more chance of identifying myself as not only a (potential) customer, but what possibilities can inspire me, personally. Part of this subconscious process happens as humans by seeing others doing something similar.

What are your thoughts about inclusiveness in marketing images?

Renee 🙂

Donna de Haan, a colleague wrote this great post on LinkedIn around the time I wrote this post, sharing with permission!

May 2021 Follow up…

Well done Hornbach, great to see this in the newspaper this week!

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