United States food giant General Mills is in the process of hiring a new advertising agency for its creative account – a routine process. But this time around, the $36bn company has broken the mold with an unusual stipulation. In this interview with AdAge, Chief Marketing Officer Ann Simonds revealed that General Mills wants the creative department of their new contractor to be staffed with at least 50% women and 20% people of color, advocating that diversity fuels creativity.
Why would a company like General Mills care about the demographic makeup of the department creating their marketing campaigns? For a clue, consider the audiences that General Mills wants to reach with brands like Yoplait, Cheerios, and Pillsbury. Women drive up to 80% of all consumer purchasing, and people of color are projected to make up more than 50% of the United States’ child population by 2020.
Mad-men era advertising could be described as mostly middle-class white men endeavoring to “get into the heads” of their target audience. Advertising in the 21st century takes a much more efficient route. It is easier to simply hire the members of a given demographic for the task of empathizing, understanding, and communicating with that group, rather than generating artificial empathy and insight through arduous processes of discovery and research. In the coming years, we will see more design, creative, and strategic teams becoming more and more diverse for this reason. To connect with diverse audiences, it helps greatly to have those audiences represented on your team, whether in-house or external.
When you think of the phrase “creative team,” you might imagine a colorful lounge-like office full of hip young people, laughing together, and maybe playing foosball. While play, fun, and a relaxed environment are indeed key to creativity, what’s missing from that magazine-cover image of creativity is robust, real debate. A number of experts in creativity and innovation have reached a counterintuitive conclusion – that creativity is actually fueled by conflict. Differences in opinion (when expressed with respect and received with curiosity) are the vital seeds of fresh, unexpected ideas.
And it’s not just about quality of ideas – a recent McKinsey study found that companies with greater gender and ethnic diversity are more profitable, too. The study found that companies in the top quartile for gender or racial and ethnic diversity have financial returns above their national industry medians, and companies with a lack of diversity have below-average returns. This increase in profitability is due to the higher quality of ideas that stem from a broader range of social and cultural know-how within the organization.
These various cases and studies demonstrate that diversity fuels creativity. Diversity impacts your ability to reach your audience. It also enriches the quality of ideas produced by your team. And lastly, it’s proven to boost the bottom line. The faster organizations can leverage these findings through policies and projects that are favorable to diversity, the better.
Crowdsourced, open innovation initiatives inherently prove that diversity fuels creativity. One way to get started with this – fast – is to try crowdstorming with jovoto. jovoto’s creatives are 56% female and come from 153 different countries, with 37% coming from developing countries. The impact of this diversity shines through in the highly creative, innovative work produced by our global crowd of creatives.
Cocreation can both give your team the diversity it’s lacking and help you design better products. Find out how it works and see the success stories here.