Expand DEIB’s responsibility in national advertising

Why are today’s consumers demanding that advertisers address the lack of representation in advertising? Because it is increasingly recognized that negative stereotypes used in advertising can be harmful and misleading, can contribute to bias and can create adverse effects on stigmatized populations who feel devalued.

As Facebook IQ describes in a recent report on diversity and inclusion in online advertising, “People around the world are demanding to see themselves better represented in advertising. They want to see the true diversity of their communities represented more often – and more accurately – in many areas , including race, gender, sexual orientation and persons with disabilities.

BBB National Programs National Advertising Division (NAD) consults and collaborates with partners around the world to research and understand the appropriate approach to address this global challenge. Many countries other than the United States have self-regulatory standards that prohibit stereotyping in advertising. And the Advertising Standards Authority in the UK conducted critical research about the harms that can be caused by unfavorable and misleading representations of race and ethnicity.

In January 2022, NAD’s sister program, the Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU), began to monitor advertising to children in accordance with CARU’s Revised Advertising Guidelines, widely recognized industry standards to ensure that advertising to children is not misleading, unfair or inappropriate to its intended audience. While the Guidelines have always recognized the importance of diversity and inclusion in ad creative, the revised Guidelines now hold advertisers accountable for negative social stereotyping, bias or discrimination.

Since the launch of the Revised Guidelines, CARU has initiated two cases under this new provision: Primark clothing in July, and moose toys in August.

Effective today, September 19, 2022, NAD joins CARU in holding advertisers responsible for advertising that depicts or encourages misleading and harmful social stereotyping, bias or discrimination.

In doing so, NAD has clarified a provision of NAD/NARB Proceduresa document that outlines the parameters of the NAD and National Advertising Review Board (NARB) challenge review processes for resolving complaints about the truth or accuracy of national advertising.

NAD’s procedures are now revised to expressly recognize that its responsibility to review matters involving the truth or accuracy of national advertising includes “national advertising that is misleading or inaccurate by reason of its depiction or encouragement negative and harmful social stereotyping, prejudice or discrimination”.

Now that this new provision of procedures is in effect, cases related to this new provision may be challenged with the NAD or may be brought through the NAD’s oversight process.

Marilyn J. Hernandez