Advertisers failing to feature BAME people as protagonists, research finds

Overall representation of black, Asian and minority-ethnic people has surged in the past three years.

Sainsbury's: only 7% of ads feature a BAME protagonist
Sainsbury's: only 7% of ads feature a BAME protagonist

Black, Asian and minority-ethnic people continue to be underrepresented as the sole or main protagonist of UK ads, despite a rapid increase in their overall representation, according to the Ethnicity in Advertising report commissioned by Lloyds Banking Group.

A quarter of ads now feature people from BAME groups, up from just 12% in 2015. However, only 7% of ads featured someone from a BAME group as the sole or main protagonist. The study involved an audit of the top 50 advertising spenders in 2017 and an online survey of 2,000 people in England and Wales.

The survey found that 32% of black people, 28% of Asian people and 29% of multi-racial people felt that their ethnic groups were not sufficiently represented in ad campaigns, while 13% of white people felt underrepresented.

The research also asked people about representation of culture. More than two-fifths (42%) of black people said that advertisers did not do enough to recognise their culture, while 29% said they felt negatively stereotyped by advertising.

More than two-thirds (69%) of all respondents said they would feel better about a brand if the advertising more accurately represented modern Britain.

Richard Warren, director of marketing communications at Lloyds Banking Group, said:  "The rise in representation of the BAME community within advertising demonstrates that advertisers are making significant strides in better reflecting modern Britain.

"However, there is still work to do in the industry. Brands must continue to develop their communications to authentically represent the diversity of the UK.

"It is essential that we continue to strive to understand and meet customers’ changing needs, ensuring that all groups in society, no matter their age, gender or sexuality, have the opportunity both to feel engaged and recognised."