Representation has always been a staple with Shonda Rhimes’s productions. From the early days of Grey’s Anatomy to her latest Netflix hit, Queen Charlotte, representation has seamlessly been woven into the storytelling, giving Rhimes’s shows broad appeal.
With the Queen Charlotte series, there has been much talk about the representation particularly of Black women in such powerful and leading roles, and in a period piece which is rare. And while the impact of that representation is important, there were other forms of representation in the series that are less common to see in mainstream media and marketing, that more brands should be leaning into.
Seeing interracial couples isn’t necessarily a new thing. But in the vast majority of instances, whenever you see a mixed race heterosexual couple, the man is Black, and the woman is another race.
It is rare to see a Black woman, and specifically a Black woman with kinky hair as the love interest of a man who isn’t Black. This imagery directly challenges the prevailing negative narrative that Black women are not beautiful and are the least desirable to date (this came from data from a 2014 OK Cupid Study).
But just because a narrative exists, doesn’t mean it has to stand. In fact, changing prevailing and often negative and inaccurate stereotypes are one of the things consumers expect these days from brands engaging in inclusive marketing.
Queen Charlotte showed powerful love story between Queen Charlotte, portrayed as a Black woman, and King George III, a white man. The social media commentary on their love seems to only focus on the depth, power, and beauty of their love. Race, although important to the broader storyline of the series, is irrelevant in arc of their love.
It just goes to show that when done right, brands can change the narrative with their content and visual imagery in a way that has a positive impact on the communities being represented, without causing an uproar among the broader population.
With all the chatter and content surrounding the series, one of the most frequent conversations fans are having on social media is their desire to see and know more about the Brimsley and Reynolds love story. Some are even calling for a series that just focuses on their storyline.
While there has been an increase in LGBTQ+ representation in both media and marketing, that representation doesn’t always often come with a love story that engulfs viewers in such a way that it did on Queen Charlotte.
As brands think about how to engage both people from the LGBTQ+ community, and those who love them, showcasing stories of people who are part of the community with a greater degree of depth is the right way to go.
GLAAD’s recent Accelerating Acceptance study revealed that 75% of non-LGBTQ+ adults feel comfortable seeing LBGTQ+ people in advertisements, and 73% of non-LGBTQ+ adults feel comfortable seeing LGBTQ+ characters included in TV shows or movies.
Thus as you think about representing people from the LGBTQ+ community in your brand, be sure to highlight a storyline people can latch on to.
Queen Charlotte focused on the topic mental illness, which in many cases are classified as a disability. The series tackles King George’s mental health challenges, and the way it impacts not only his life, including his work and his relationships.
Disability of all forms are sorely lacking in representation in both media and marketing. While one in six people worldwide have some form of disability, representation of disability in media and marketing is very low, at around 2%. And when it is shown, many people are often frustrated with how it is depicted.
But with Queen Charlotte, not only did the writers tackle mental health in a real way, they were sure to do it in a way that highlighted that people with a disability belong and are worth of being loved just as they are.
Fans felt seen, and appreciated the care that was taken with the storyline.
As you work to be more inclusive of the disability community, including people dealing with mental health challenges, take the time to develop a deep degree of customer intimacy with them so you can showcase them in a manner that not only makes them feel seen, but also truthfully depicts the realities of what life is like for them.
Representation matters. Representing in marketing gives the people you serve a permission slip to take the next step forward with you. Take the time to change the narrative of underrepresented and underserved communities by representing them in a manner that makes them feel seen, supported, and like they belong with you.
Read the full article here