Einstein Goes to Pride: Creativity and Inclusivity in Advertising
I’ve always admired and looked up to Albert Einstein— not only because his wispy halo of hair resembles my bedhead before a Zoom call, but also because his intelligence never got in the way of his imagination. Instead he applied these forces in tandem, using the basic building blocks of intelligence, imagination and creativity to uncover the secrets of the galaxy.
He has a quote that has always stuck with me:
“Creativity is seeing what others see and thinking what no one else has ever thought.”
Einstein was right about just a few things— creativity is one of them. You cannot experience a deeper imagination, an informed creative mind without having first put yourself in the shoes of another. When we can see our creative work through the lens of somebody else, we can better understand our own communication, and how it affects others. Just like any skill, creativity is learned. It is the application of imagination — imagination being unbridled ideas. Creativity is a honed application of those ideas. The best way to effectively train our creativity? Experience, inclusivity, diversity and research.
My former professor and friend at TMCC (Truckee Meadows Community College), Dan Bouweraerts, is synonymous with his tagline “Do your research.” It surprises me what a powerful creative lifeline this simple advice turned out to be. In my own experience, research has allowed me to experiment with art styles, understand cultures different than mine, and connect to the human experience on a much deeper level. But the best exercise for the creative muscle by far is experience. Going out into the world and experiencing different people and cultures will fill you to the brim with creative ideas and inspiration from artists of the past. It’s not just tourism for the creative, it’s cultural immersion and a clearer understanding of the art of a region and how it effectively communicates to the people there.
PURCHASING WITH PRIDE
This brings us to inclusivity in advertising. Having worked in the industry for over seven years, I have seen the reluctance to break out beyond conventions, heard the questions about whether including gay couples, people of color, or indigenous culture should factor into an area’s tourism. The good news? This conversation is one of increasing inclusion and diversity.
Since becoming a designer, I’ve been conscious of including people of color in the work I create. Not out of any obligation, but because seeing yourself in advertising shows that, yes, we are talking to you, and yes, it’s okay to be you. We’re showing that we’re proud to have a diverse face for our campaign, whether you’re LGBTQ+, from another ethnicity or culture, or have disabilities; it’s validation. And statistics back up the importance of including marginalized groups within advertising and branding campaigns; the purchasing power of minorities is stronger and more diverse than ever.
As advertisers, we have a responsibility to be mindful of how we market to these audiences. And now we circle back to that old adage, “do your research.” Beyond research, we must also initiate conversations about diversity and representation, engage with marginalized communities, and most importantly, listen to them when they tell us how we should sell to them. Sitting back and letting underrepresented groups share their experiences and stories is paramount to “seeing what others see and thinking what no one else has ever thought,” as our old pal Albert says.
Now more than ever, consumers want to see brands that reflect their own lives and the diversity within them. They want campaigns that put genuine effort into being inclusive and reaching out to audiences that often feel left behind and underrepresented. So when thinking about your next award-winning creative campaign, think about who the face of that campaign will be. Is it a lesbian couple enjoying a night out? Is it a deaf boy shooting hoops at the park? Is it a Buddhist doing yoga with their dog? Gone are the days of pearl clutching; now is the time to celebrate our unique differences. We— as advertisers, as consumers, as people— have to make the choice to push change and diversity whenever possible. Ask yourself, does my creative showcase diversity? If not, why not? It’s never too late to start embracing what makes people different and advocating for a more inclusive world.