“Diversity” Voted ANA 2021 Marketing Word Of The Year

Since 2014, the ANA has surveyed its committee members to select the marketing word of the year. In choosing the word, the ANA staff identified a list of 12 final candidates. Members were then asked to cast their votes to determine the winner. The survey posed two questions:

  1.     What word should be the ANA Marketing Word of the Year?
  2.     Why did you vote for that word?

This year, voting was done online the week of November 29. A total of 205 ANA committee members participated.

Representative responses to “Why did you vote for ‘Diversity’ as the ANA 2021 Marketing Word of the Year?” included:

  •     It is the future for business and an imperative for marketers and marketing as we set the pace for an inclusive world where representation matters.
  •     Diversity has taken a different importance and relevance this year, for our customers and audiences.
  •     This year we all had to consider whether our teams, our agencies and content reflected our diverse culture and customers.
  •     It’s been a prolific movement by marketers to ensure they are meeting the expectations demanded by consumers, following the events of 2020 (and the historically underrepresented or underserved).
  •     Marketing at its best should be about connecting in inclusive and authentic ways that reaches audiences from many different backgrounds.
  •     Diversity affects/touches everything.

“This year’s choice for word of the year was an overwhelming favorite among the votes cast,” said ANA CEO Bob Liodice.  “The votes and the verbatims were a clear testament to the importance of diversity in our industry and the seriousness in which our community is addressing the issue.”

Other top choices in the ANA 2021 Marketing Word(s) of the Year voting were cookie-less, metaverse, and customer experience (CX).  Previous ANA Marketing Words of the Year were pivot (2020), personalization (2019), brand purpose (2018), artificial intelligence (2017), transparency (2016), content marketing (2015), and programmatic (2014).

Diversity has been a key focus of the ANA’s Global Growth Council, which was established by the ANA and Cannes Lions to focus on driving enterprise growth. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is a primary area of focus for the ANA Growth Agenda, under the Society and Sustainability growth priority. Diversity has been front and center at ANA in 2021 with initiatives including:

  •     “A Diversity Report for the Advertising/Marketing Industry” revealed that the overall ethnic skew of employees in client-side marketing departments is more diverse than ever.
  •     The ANA Educational Foundation (AEF) published “My Voice Matters: Linking Inclusion to Business Growth,” which looked at three key areas that linked to business performance: My Voice in the Room, My Voice in the Company, and My Voice in the Industry.
  •     ANA’s Alliance for Inclusive and Multicultural Marketing (AIMM) developed and released multiple DEI tools (Maturity Model, Self-Assessment, Action Plan, and Scorecard) and resources (AAPI/AA/Black/LGBTQ+ Educational Fact Packs).
  •     The report “The Growth of Supplier Diversity” provided a deep dive into supplier diversity in marketing/advertising, covering areas including benefits, challenges, spend, goals, and measurement.
  •     The report, “And Now a Word from the Diverse Suppliers: The Supplier Perspective on Certification,” surveyed suppliers on the ANA/AIMM list of certified diverse suppliers. The focus was on certification, to understand its importance, benefits, challenges, ease/difficulty of the certification process, and more.


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