British media and advertising failing to represent minority groups

british media and advertising

Britain’s media and advertising industries are failing to adequately represent minority groups.

That’s according to We Are Social, the global socially-led creative agency, which said it has uncovered a lack of representation among young people as part of its All Tomorrow’s Stories report examining the future of representation through the lens of Gen Z.

British media and advertising

Collaborating with global entertainment company and leading webnovel platform Wattpad, We Are Social surveyed 1,095 Gen Z Wattpad users, who shared their responses to a series of questions centred on the topic of representation.

Key findings from the research show:

  • ​​87% of Gen Z Storytellers agree that media and advertising has a responsibility to be inclusive in its representation of diverse and minority identities
  • 60% of Gen Z Storytellers say they are more likely to buy from brands that represent diverse and minority identities and experiences in their adverts and on social media – even if they don’t belong to these groups
  • Only 15% of respondents of diverse ethnic heritage felt their ethnic identity was well represented in media and advertising.
  • Only 15% of respondents with a disability felt their ability was well represented in media and advertising.
  • Almost 60% of respondents saw themselves represented on social media – the highest scoring media type in our survey.

All Tomorrow’s Stories aims to shed light on the importance of representation. The study’s findings offer four ways in which brands can approach representation better.

All Tomorrows Stories Stats

#1 Listen and laud – Pass the mic to underrepresented voices

When representing others’ identities and experiences, it’s better to amplify those voices instead of speaking over them, give people proper credit and recognition, and carve out space for people to speak for themselves.

#2 New Perspectives – Tell the stories currently untold

Diverse narratives and new voices unlock more exciting, original and engaging storytelling. Gen Z Storytellers are looking for representation that breaks the mould. 

They want brands to work harder to celebrate and elevate untold stories.

#3 Create the space – Facilitate spaces for your audience to be themselves, not just see themselves 

In a social-media era, diverse representation isn’t just about who we see on screen. 

As Gen Z consumes more content within social platforms and communities, it’s important that these spaces are welcoming, safe and diverse. And it’s vital that brands understand how to navigate them.

#4 Lived experiences – Remember – you don’t have to make identity central for it to be (re)present(ed)

Gen Z Storytellers have fluid, personal relationships with their own identities. 

They want to see representation on their screens that goes beyond box-ticking and stereotyping, expanding into deeper, richer and more nuanced storytelling.

In a series of deep dive interviews, eight Gen Z Storytellers offer a look at the impact of inadequate or absent representation on an individual and emotional level. 

Viewpoints from this group are featured throughout the report, including personal experiences that add lived history to the survey results.

These sit alongside an expert view from British broadcaster and producer Jasmine Dotiwala, which places the insights into the context of wider media and industry trends.

Jeanne Lam, Wattpad’s President said: “Representation is a critical issue for marginalised communities. 

“Working with We Are Social, we wanted to understand where Gen Z readers felt left out of advertising and marketing, elevating the perspectives of communities that don’t see themselves reflected in media. 

“Our vision at Wattpad is to entertain and connect the world through stories. We hope this research helps more brands better understand the communities, stories, and perspectives they are overlooking.”

Mobbie Nazir, Global Chief Strategy Officer at We Are Social, said: “We Are Social wants to show up for the full spectrum of British audiences. 

“That means representing people, as they are today, in meaningful, honest and accurate ways. In order to do this effectively, we wanted to find out exactly where the gaps in representation are. 

“Collaborating with Wattpad on All Tomorrow’s Stories has given us the amazing opportunity to connect with the next generation of audiences and creators, providing us with invaluable insight into how Gen Z views the future of representation within our industry and beyond.”