Robert Sawatzky
Nov 14, 2018

Australian marketers less compelled to use diverse campaign images than others

But Germans do even worse in a Shutterstock survey comparing marketers in the US, UK, Australia, Brazil and Germany.

Australian marketers less compelled to use diverse campaign images than others

Shutterstock’s latest Diversity Research Report reveals that while Australian marketers feel more can be done to improve representing a more diverse range of people in advertising and marketing campaigns, they lag behind when it comes to using a wider variety of images.

The survey asked 2,500 marketers across five global markets about their opinions and what impacted their decision-making on visuals, unearthing some key differences between countries and generations.

The vast majority of all marketers agreed there was more room for growth in selecting more diverse images, but as in most categories, Brazilian marketers felt the most strongly about this (95%), followed by the US (89%) and UK (88%), with Australia (87%) and Germany trailing slightly behind (86%).

The difference, however, became more palpable when the marketers were asked about specific image use. While 32% of Brazilian marketers said they’ve started using more images of people with disabilities in their campaigns, only 18% of Australians said the same.

Have started using more images featuring people with disabilities in campaigns in past 12 months:
  • Brazil: 32%
  • UK: 25%
  • US:  20%
  • Australia: 18%
  • Germany: 11%

In terms of gender diversity, one interesting finding was that 19% of all Brazilian, British and American marketers claim to have used more transgender models in the past year.  And yes, here too Australian (13%) and German (11%) marketers had lower percentages.

The countries’ marketers ranked in similar order when it came to using more images featuring racially diverse models, with Brazil leading at 45% and Australia well behind at 28%. The reasons listed varied, with 71% of US marketers saying they included more racially diverse people in order to represent modern society.

Have started using more images featuring racially diverse models in campaigns in past 12 months:

  • Brazil: 45%
  • UK: 33%
  • US:  30%
  • Australia: 28%
  • Germany: 20%

While Australian marketers may have been less likely than counterparts elsewhere to have used more diverse models in their campaign images, the vast majority (73%) favoured adopting a similar standard to the ASA gender stereotyping rule for advertisements.

In general, when it comes to purpose of imagery in campaigns, Australian marketers were comparatively more concerned (38%) with the connection between the images and brand messages than with making visual choices to avoid criticism (19%) or to yield an emotional reaction (28%).

Generational divide

The survey also uncovered a generational divide internationally, with Gen Z and millennials more likely to have started more images in the past year featuring racially diverse models, same sex couples, transgender models, people with disabilities and gender-fluid, non-binary or androgynous models than their Gen X and Baby Boomer counterparts.

In the last 12 months, marketers started to use images featuring more of the following:


Gen Z


Gen X

Baby Boomers

Racially diverse models





Same sex couples





Transgender models





People with disabilities





Gender-fluid, non-binary, or androgynous models





The research shows that while Generation X understands the value of featuring diverse people in their campaigns, they are less likely to follow through on this compared to Generation Z and Millennial marketers, said Lou Weiss, Shutterstock’s Chief Marketing Officer.

“This year’s research illustrates not only the stark generational differences among marketers as they chose imagery for their campaigns, but also the various motivations behind these image choices and how they differed by country," Weiss said. "There is clearly a shift occurring in our industry as the next generation of marketers find their footing and visualise their beliefs related to diversity of race, gender and abilities in the marketing campaigns they’re creating.”

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