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Opinion

Trans Day of Visibility – How the Influencer Marketing Industry is Becoming More Representative

When marketing a brand or a product, we regularly see examples of campaigns aimed at either males or females - in the binary sense. Think women promoting a makeup product aimed at other women, or men promoting a protein supplement aimed at other men. We explore how marketing can be refocused to include everyone across the gender spectrum.

Take razor brands for example – ‘female’ razors are usually marketed using pink, floral advertisements with a focus on ‘super smooth’ hairless bodies, whereas ‘male’ razors are usually marketed using dark, sharp advertisements promoting how the product is tough and strong. 

Continuing with the example of marketing razors, the product in its simple form is not specifically made for one gender, so marketing towards one gender could mean that a brand is restricting its audience, where it could be including and representing everyone. There are, however, a number of brands that are hitting the mark when it comes to gender-inclusive marketing, using social media as a tool to find influencers and content creators representative of real people of a wide range of identities.

As our society develops and adapts to become more understanding and accepting of those who do not fit the binary of male or female, it is not enough for marketers to be tokenistic in their approach to inclusive marketing, but gender inclusivity is something that should be embedded in the brand’s core beliefs. 

The brands paving the way

Take Gillette for example – the razor and personal care brand hit the headlines in 2019 when they released a video advertisement off the back of the #MeToo campaign, where the brand aimed to tackle the issue of toxic masculinity. Although Gillette received some criticism for its foray into feminism, many celebrated how the brand had broken the stereotypes of a traditional razor campaign. 

In May 2019, Gillette released another video ad campaign that aimed to embrace and promote inclusive representations of gender. The campaign, for which Gillette created the hashtag #MyBestSelf, featured a real transgender teen called Samson, who was being taught how to shave for the first time by his father. Creating the hashtag along with the video allowed viewers and consumers of the ad who identify in a similar way to Samson to be able to share their experiences, allowing more trans people to discuss how they feel they’re represented in a market that is traditionally dominated by cisgender men. 

This week, Revolution Beauty announced that the brand is launching a new major campaign with TikTok to celebrate diversity, inclusivity, and genderless beauty. Beginning in April, and ending October, when a winner will be chosen, the #CreatorRevolution challenge is a digital beauty pageant aimed at disrupting outdated assumptions and celebrating every definition of beauty.

Revolution Beauty is encouraging beauty creators from all walks of life to participate and show their creative flair by posting videos to TikTok using the hashtag #CreatorRevolution. TikTok creator Abby Roberts, along with a panel of experts, will select entries to the hashtag challenge over the next three months, narrowing them down in order to select a winner. The winner of the virtual pageant will receive a $100,000 prize, the chance to create a product line with Revolution Beauty, and an invite to join the TikTok Creator Marketplace. 

Creating a competition that any beauty enthusiast can enter, no matter the gender or background, just by uploading a video using a hashtag, allows those who typically feel sidelined by the stereotypes of the beauty industry to thrive and express themselves. 

Creator activists ensure a safe space for their followers

As well as brands that are working towards becoming more gender-inclusive in their marketing, there are many influencers and content creators who are putting gender inclusion and trans activism at the forefront when sharing their lives online. 

Kenny Ethan Jones is a model, activist, and writer, with a strong online presence. If you’re not already aware of Kenny and his work, he is best known for his appearance in Pink Parcel’s ‘IM ON’ campaign, featuring as the first trans man to front a period campaign. This launched Kenny into his journey of activism, specialising mainly in trans activism, menstruation, body politics, and language.

Being recognised for his activism and growing his social presence has allowed Kenny to take on large challenges in order to advocate for a more diverse and inclusive society. Kenny has provided consultancy for HM Government on body positivity/image, for Instagram on dead-naming and misgendering, Ofcom on the general visibility of trans people in the media, GymShark on diversity and inclusion – just to note a few of his achievements. 

Vocalising his passions and beliefs, and engaging a loyal audience by advocating for change in regards to the challenges that many trans, or gender non-conforming people face, makes Kenny valued changemaker within the community, using his platform to represent to voices of many.

As we begin to see the breaking of gender binaries through brand campaigns, and through the influencers we follow on social platforms, our social sphere continues to become more inclusive and representative. It is important to ensure that inclusivity in marketing isn’t tokenistic or just best practice. Gender representation and inclusivity is something that should be ingrained in a brand’s core beliefs.

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