In general, Western cultures do a really crappy job of representing all types of people in any real way. Coming to London, a crowded, big city in a “white” country, I was expecting about as much diversity in advertisements as you see in Austin. In some cases this is true but there have been times where the casual use of diverse people in campaigns has surprised me.
The demographics of London and the country as a whole, I think has a lot to do with why there is a bit more inclusion in their advertising. It is very much an international city and its proximity to so many other countries helps keep up a multicultural vibe, this is sometimes but not always, reflected in their ads.
“In 2007 there were over 300 languages spoken [in London] and more than 50 non-indigenous communities with a population of more than 10,000,” according to Wikipedia. Only 44.9% of London’s population is “White-British” making minority representation all the more important.
I have seen a lot more racial representation here when it comes to groups like muslims and blacks than there is in America. Instead of only seeing these groups in stereotypical or intentional ways (like seeing black basketball players or muslims in a religious setting), there is integration in the way that they are represented as normal citizens.
Compared to the U.S., the self-proclaimed melting pot of culture, London seems to do a slightly better job at inclusion and remembering to represent all citizens. In the U.S., its news when a large company casts a minority or underrepresented person in a major ad campaign, even when those minorities are celebrities like Gabby Douglas during the Olympics.
I by no means think that London has enough inclusion or diversity but I think that they are at least making some effort. Seeing minorities on billboards or in newspaper ads should not be exciting or shocking, it should be commonplace and we have yet to reach that point.
The diversity of London is one of the things that makes it’s culture the way it is and without it, the city would look and sound entirely different. With so many immigrants and minorities living here, it would do ad agencies good to appeal to these consumers and show them equal representation if not out of morality than out of economy and to increase their customer pool.