HP exposes bias around the 'all-American family' with social experiment
- HP conducted a social experiment that brought together 13 families of different races, ethnicities, ages, genders and sexual orientations, according to Adweek. The family members were separated and a smaller group of people was asked to choose which individuals went together to make up the "all-American family."
- No one reassembled the families correctly, with most grouping individuals based on race and also creating heterosexual couples. For example, an African-American lesbian mom was paired with a man of the same race, who is actually married to a white woman. In an HP-commissioned study, 74% of respondents felt that the all-American family consisted of a white heterosexual couple with children; however, U.S. Census data show that just one in four families fit that description.
- When the real families were reunited properly, they were photographed, with the pictures printed out on HP' Envy devices and placed on a wall. The brand released a four-minute short film showing the experiment that was created by Edelman Digital. The campaign is an extension of HP's "Reinvent Mindsets" initiative that focuses on inclusion and spotlighting biases that exist in the corporate world and society.
HP's "Family Portraits" effort offers a look at the growing diversity of America's families and how that diversity often goes unrecognized when it comes to how people actually think about ideas of modern family life. As more marketers are leaning into social cause-based campaigns to create emotional resonance with consumers, social experiments can be a powerful tool for illustrating issues and communicating authenticity.
Heineken went viral last year with a "World's Apart" campaign that brought together real people from different sides of the political aisle and asked them to build a bar together, for example. HP's other efforts centered on inclusivity have also helped support the technology company's business.
Since 2016, when HP announced its pledge to promote diversity, the brand has seen a 33% increase in revenue per impression, according to Nielsen data cited in a separate Adweek report. Purchase intent for HP has also increased six points in ComScore's Brand Monitor.
Many of HP's cause-minded efforts were spearheaded by chief marketer Antonio Lucio. The executive was earlier this month poached by Facebook to help the social giant sort out messaging related to its myriad privacy issues and also to bring greater diversity to company leadership.
Millennial and Gen Z consumers, who are the most diverse generations, frequently favor brands that feature diversity in their marketing. A 2016 study by BabyCenter and YouGov found that 80% of parents appreciate seeing diverse families in advertising, with millennial parents most likely to purchase from brands that depict such situations.