Empowering Equitable Storytelling for Brands: From the Inside Out

Danisha Lomax & Ibon Iraola & Jennifer Andrews
Published August 17, 2023

What happens when a client's goal (aka brief) is to inspire their internal marketers to tell equitable and inclusive stories? What's the most authentic way to start? We believe it all begins within. This is especially crucial when partnering with world-class famous brands who aspire to lead with inclusive storytelling. When we received the brief from a world-class client, we called our squad and mapped out an 8-week plan to build an engaging and sustainable foundation for understanding and action.

Our brand wanted to drive awareness and improve their brand health positioning among the next generation while improving education with their core audiences. We matched those goals against where their audiences were showing up every day: we found these young adults in gaming.

Not only does the gaming community provide a captivated audience, it is larger than the movie and music industries combined; this community is also as diverse as the general population. The problem is that when it comes to equity and inclusivity, the gaming industry has its challenges. Women, BIPOC, and Disability communities are the most forgotten. These communities' lived experiences are different, so engaging with creators and hearing firsthand the challenges they must go through was essential.

So first, we identified these communities, we studied the most relevant cultural tensions in each audience and selected makers that could tell us firsthand their challenges, experiences, and what they consider success.

On game day, we executed an 8-hour education series with three gamer-creators and 12 marketers split into three teams. The series included workshops, a panel, and a friendly competition. Because gaming was our focus, our on-site partner was Twitch, one of the largest gaming platforms in the category that also focuses on uplifting historically marginalized voices. We had an entire production crew right in the heart of San Francisco.

Let's get into what we learned:

  1. Inclusivity Starts by Building Institutional Knowledge. When brands seek to enhance their external communication, we encourage pausing and crafting a plan to review and establish new habits. A natural progression toward external best practices with customers and audiences is achieved by nurturing these habits internally, you know, from the inside out. Together, we can create a genuine and resonant connection that lasts.
  2. Representation Is Table Stakes. Consider who is invited to participate and what nuanced stories might be missing. There must be a depth of representation to tell authentic stories from diverse perspectives. Consider ability, culture, community, identity, and most importantly, the intersections and multi-dimensions of people's lives.
  3. Creators Are People. This learning is a no-brainer but worth a quick grounding. Creators have valid lived experiences that help them connect with their audiences in ways that brands can learn from. They are craft builders and need creative freedom to connect and do their jobs.
  4. Pay and Asset Equity. Be clear on your budget. There are standards and minimums creators need to get the job done. Asset creation plays a significant role here, so brands need to be clear on their distribution needs. Digitas is working on developing pay rate evaluators to ensure our clients meet pay rate minimums and go above the scale often.
  5. Platforms Play an Important Role. Platforms like Twitch are staples in the day-to-day lives of creators. Streaming is life, so does equity play a role here? Yes. Brands must know this and use their influence to ensure that inclusivity and equity conversations and solutions are front and center with partners.

We all learned so much throughout the day. What was most rewarding were the impromptu confessionals, which allowed our creators and marketers to get vulnerable about their understanding of creators and how our theme impacts their lives. We also learned how much burnout is a real problem gamers face. As a solution, we are encouraging brands to think about realistic deliverables and timelines as another way to bring equity to this community.

Overall, these sessions led to an end-of-day share-out with specifics on what each team would do to build long-lasting creator relationships. If you’re a brand looking to ensure inclusion and equity in your creator marketing, our DE&I Blueprint product is the first step. Call us; we got you.

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The Digitas Multicultural Center of Excellence (McCOE) is a collective & service offering built to empower teams and clients to authentically represent culture and community through a marketing framework that inspires and ignites Creative, Media, and Production business outcomes. We highlight the value of cultural differences through diversity, inclusive representation, and purpose.

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