Advertising has come a long way since the catalogues and slogan posters that first characterised the practice when it began to boom in the United States during the 1920s; more and more, we're seeing fantastically inclusive ads on our screens, including many inclusive ad campaigns featuring families that show just how wide the definition of the word "family" is now. It seems like a little thing, who's depicted in an ad and who isn't — but those little things ad up, and the big picture definitely matters.
Although it's still somewhat of a talking point to see commercials about families featuring anything other than white, able-bodied, Western-looking, traditional nuclear units, there are tentative inroads being made to diversify the range of people depicted in them. There are a few reasons for this; of course it's worth remembering that the goal of an ad is to sell us something, but it's significant that advertisers have tapped into the seismic shifts regarding race, sexuality, and family values. The world is a hugely varied place, as are the people who populate it, and it makes sense that our media would want to reflect this.
And Airbnb have just become the latest company to release an advert promoting a diverse and changing version of the modern family. Their clip shows a family comprised of two moms and three kids having what looks to be the best time ever in and around a rented home in L.A. Inclusivity: Fun for everyone!
There's still plenty of work left to do, too of course. Although LGBTQ-inclusive adverts like the one above are becoming increasingly common, we could definitely still stand to see more. It's still incredibly rare to see any sort of disability feature in a commercial; and the backlash some have lobbed at some inclusive advertisements are powerful indicators that not all commercials reflect societal views, and vice versa.
However, there are some amazingly inclusive family adverts that have been put out in recent years which will totally give you all the feels. Here are nine of them:
1. National Fatherhood Initiative
Dismantling long-standing, derogatory stereotypes of black fathers is a task that may never be fully completed, but thankfully the non-profit organization National Fatherhood Initiative is doing their bit with this super-sweet "Cheerleader Daddy" commercial. Its humour packs a serious punch and makes an important point all at once.
2. Wells Fargo
I challenge you not to shed a tear in this powerful commercial, which depicts a lesbian couple working hard at learning sign language in preparation for a new arrival from the adoption agency. SO MANY FEELS HERE.
Camera company Nikon snapped up gay dads Kordale and Kaleb for their "I Am Generation" campaign last year after a photo of their pair doing their daughter’s hair went viral after being posted on Instagram. The advert references the pic, with the couple explaining that "parents that can get up at 5.30 a.m. and do their daughter’s hair, no matter who they are — that’s a family."
Campbell’s was founded in 1879 and is a family brand embedded in the consciousness of many Americans. What a clever move it was, then, to create a commercial that recalled the connection between good food and family while reflecting what many families look like today. Also, bonus points for Star Wars.
5. Honey Maid
I love how this advert ticks all the inclusivity boxes without being too over-the-top with it. Gay families, mixed families, Latino families — it ain't nothing to Honey Maid, who assures us that all families are "wholesome."
Whilst we’re starting to see a lot more LGBT and interracial themes in advertisements these days, those with people who have disabilities are seen a whole lot less. This Swiffer video, though, has managed to create a commercial that includes an interracial family and people with disabilities, making it wonderfully intersectional.
Continuing the trend of showing what families actually look like around the world, Hallmark created an advert which encapsulates the chaos of the family Christmas photo for a multi-racial family. It's a subtle nod, too; the concept of race is not used to shock or stun. It's just the way things are — which is just as it should be.
The message is nice and direct; also it’s hella cute. It features two sets of couples on holiday, focusing on a man and a woman making small talk about their Kindles whilst lounging on their deck chairs; at first, you assume they are husband and wife, until it's revealed that both are actually waiting for their husbands to return from the bar. There's nothing like a vacation with your partner and your best pals, right?
This 2013 Cheerio advert was a landmark for many reasons, but the most important one was the way it simply presented the multi-racial family for what they are: A family. Period.