Home Digital TV and Video How Messaging Grounds Voya Financial’s DEI Strategy

How Messaging Grounds Voya Financial’s DEI Strategy

Postcard template with women of different nationalities and religions.

Historically, many industries and verticals have tended to overrepresent white men. Finance is one of them. Voya Financial, an investment company that helps its clients prep for retirement, is trying to bridge that gap by making the messaging in its ads more inclusive.

On January 13, Voya launched two new commercials, both in thirty-second and fifteen-second versions, that each feature a historically underrepresented demographic – a Southeast Asian ethnic group and people with disabilities.

The ads are running across all platforms, including streaming and digital video.

Linear TV is Voya’s “cornerstone” because of its efficiency at a CPM level, said Jim Cowsert, VP of advertising and media at Voya Financial. Its primary goal is brand awareness across a broad target audience (everyone retires eventually), so it usually passes on the premiums of more advanced targeting on connected TV platforms like streaming.

Even so, the brand is starting to lean further into cross-platform entertainment channels where audiences tend to be more engaged. Its incremental reach is still in the early stages, though.

At the same time, Voya buys demos on digital video, particularly YouTube, to try to drive more conversions through the traditionally lower-funnel medium. It’s actually trialing six-second versions of its commercials for YouTube, too, because attention spans are only getting shorter. (Vine must’ve been onto something.)

“Every year, we’re investing more outside of linear,” Cowsert said. “It’s a gradual shift.”

Voya’s primary strategy for reaching its audience isn’t through targeting but through its messaging.

Appealing messaging resonates when people see themselves in the ads, Cowsert said. “We want to fully represent all Americans,” he added.

Voya tracks representation in ads and claims people of color constitute 55% of the characters in ads the company has run since launching its brand in 2014. For reference, the 2020 census pins non-white Americans in the US at around 42% of the population. (Better to pass the finish line than to stop short.)

But populations change – as do TV consumption preferences – so media teams don’t have time to rest on their laurels.


AdExchanger Daily

Get our editors’ roundup delivered to your inbox every weekday.

Southeast Asian ethnic groups are a demographic we haven’t really represented a lot in our advertising, Cowsert said, “and we want to make sure we’re continuing to be inclusive.”

Accordingly, one of Voya’s two new commercials features a multigenerational family of Indian descent.

Underrepresented groups who don’t get their fair share of airtime go beyond race. Voya has been especially focused on representing people with special needs or disabilities in its campaigns for the past five years.

“We’re [also] acknowledging the additional challenges that caregivers or families with special needs children face in terms of saving for retirement,” Cowsert added.

Voya said it tackles DEI beyond just casting by customizing the scripts for the groups. Behind the camera, it aims for diversity, too.

“We’re trying to reach and resonate with a diverse audience not just through media placements and media partners but through the messaging itself,” Cowsert said. That’s done by making sure a story’s actors also have a hand in scripting that story.

“Diversity is something we think about both on-screen and off-screen,” Cowsert added. “Directing is [another] field that’s heavily white male historically, so we have women directors and people of color on our directing team to make sure people working [with our] business reflect our target [audience].”

Must Read

shopping cart

Moloco Invests In Its Competitor Topsort As The Retail Media Stakes Go Up

Topsort can lean into Moloco’s algorithmic personalization, while Moloco benefits from Topsort’s footprint with local retailers in the US and in Latin America.

CDP BlueConic Acquires First-Party Data Collection Startup Jebbit

On Wednesday, customer data platform BlueConic bought Jebbit, which creates quizzes, surveys and other interactive online plugs for collecting data from customers.

Comic: The Showdown (Google vs. DOJ)

The DOJ’s Witness List For The Google Antitrust Trial Is A Who’s Who Of Advertising

The DOJ published the witness list for its upcoming antitrust trial against Google, and it reads like the online advertising industry’s answer to the Social Register.

Privacy! Commerce! Connected TV! Read all about it. Subscribe to AdExchanger Newsletters

Why Vodafone Is Giving Out Grades For Its Creative

One way to get a handle on your brand creative is to, well, grade your homework, according to Anne Stilling, Vodafone’s global director of brands and media.

Inside The Fall Of Oracle’s Advertising Business

By now, the industry is well aware that Oracle, once the most prominent advertising data seller in market, will shut down its advertising division. What’s behind the ignominious end of Oracle Advertising?

Forget about asking for permission to collect cookies. Google will have to ask for permission to not collect them.

Criteo: The Privacy Sandbox Is NOT Ready Yet, But Could Be If Google Makes Certain Changes Soon

If Google were to shut off third-party cookies today and implement the current version of the Privacy Sandbox, publishers would see their ad revenue on Chrome tank by around 60% on average.