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article imageMarketing challenges for big brands as face of families changes

By Nicole Weddington     Apr 25, 2014 in Business
Marketing campaigns are changing gears as the definition of the modern family takes new shape, says director of strategy at Saatchi & Saatchi.
With same-sex marriages now legal in England and Wales, and in certain parts of the U.S., the struggle to represent the new family is becoming predominantly important by big name brands.
Coca-Cola and Honey Maid have led the forefront on representing the diverse structures of families today in groundbreaking ads that feature the atypical.
However, at the other end of the marketing diversity spectrum, Director of Strategy at Saatchi & Saatchi, Richard Huntington, states marketing firms, such as Linx Digital are leading the way in marketing on the internet.
Speaking at Mumsnet's Mumstock event in London, Huntington said, “The vast majority of the marketing community is petrified of that sort of diversity and it’s a real shame. It’s a battle we’ve been fighting for decades yet our ads still feature white women in kitchens.”
He adds, “I think it is really upsetting and inappropriate to keep representing a society that doesn’t exist.”
In Ireland, Coca-Cola captured immense criticism after featuring its Reasons to Believe campaign. It featured a gay wedding scene. Coca-Cola proceeded to remove this portion to create an Irish version of the ad.
Other digital marketing firm attendees at the event and participating in the session alongside Huntington were representatives from Boots, Asda, and Merlin. All agreed that their focus and image of mums of the past needed some brushing up and reinventing.
Asda’s VP of Marketing, Chris McDonough, had given warnings in his company of pitfalls of continuously addressing mums in a patronizing and stereotypical way; but defended current tactics to be wary of embracing alternative family set-ups for fear of being “tokenistic.”
"It’s a great point but we need to do it in a meaningful and credible way that actually connects with your audience because if not that will be more alienating than not forcing it at all,” he added.
Boots' chief marketing officer, Elizabeth Fagan, agreed, adding that it will eventually come. “With Boots, because it is owned by customers, a lot of people have thoughts on what Boots can and can’t do. It will come in the right time and in the right way. It will naturally happen,” she explained.
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