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Karmarama and GAY TIMES launch new UK research on perception of LGBTQ+ in advertising

The research was commissioned by Karmarama, part of Accenture Interactive and GAY TIMES and conducted by YouGov. The total sample size was 2,052 adults based in the UK, of which 740 were LGBT respondents. Fieldwork was undertaken between 24 – 29 May 2019. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).


  • Only 36% of 18-24-year olds now identify as completely heterosexual versus 48% who identify as somewhere in between
  • Of those who answered, one in ten 18-24-year olds identifies as transgender
  • Half of recent Instagram users identify as completely heterosexual (50%)
  • 64% of the adults surveyed think it’s positive for the LGBTQ+ community to be visible in advertisements
  • 72% of the LGBTQ+ community think the way that LGBTQ+ people are presented in advertising is tokenistic


Ahead of Pride in London 2019, Karmarama wanted to prove the importance of building year-round, long-lasting and meaningful relationships with the LGBTQ+ community.

Generational shifts mean that marketing that is progressive and positive in its representation of the LGBTQ+ community is more important than ever, especially for younger consumers.

Fewer 18-24-year olds identify as completely heterosexual than those who identify as somewhere in between.

Trans representation is also more crucial. Of those who answered, one in ten 18-24-year olds now identify as trans, a 400% increase on the generation above them.

While LGBTQ+ perceptions in society are generally improving, stigma remains, as 72% of the LGBTQ+ community think that the way the LGBTQ+ people are presented in advertising is tokenistic.

64% of the adults surveyed think it’s positive for the LGBTQ+ community to be visible in advertisements and therefore advertising has an important role and responsibility in challenging conventions and defining what is “normal”.

This research has been featured in:

LBB Online

Marcomm News

The Drum

Marketing Week



GAY TIMES, Charlie Craggs a trans activist and the founder of Nail Transphobia, and Karmarama part of Accenture Interactive came together at the Cannes Lions Festival, to talk through the research findings in detail and discuss how the creative industry can forge better connections between businesses and a community that historically has been ignored, misrepresented, and, more recently, leveraged with cynicism. Through their discussion, they aimed to show how as an industry we can push for progress in better representation, fight LGBT+ stigma at a global level, and do it with authenticity.

Pride over Pinkwashing: Building Real Connections with LGBT+ Audiences.

Monday 17th June, 15:30 – 16:00 CEST, The Terrace Stage – LGBTQ Programme.

Ben Bilboul, CEO, Karmarama:

“The LGBTQ+ community doesn’t just appear for Pride, it exists year-round. If you want to build a brand you have to expect that today, it’s society’s choice if they want it to represent them. These exciting findings show how the LGBTQ+ community is growing and how society expects brands to step up and positively represent them.” 


Tag Warner, CEO, GAY TIMES 

“These research findings may seem surprising to some, but they absolute align and support the continued connection we have to our queer audience here in the UK and overseas. The binary world many of us have become accustomed to (“gay” and “straight”) is no longer relevant to most young people. This powerful research should be the catalyst to step-change thinking for advertising and marketing leaders when it comes to LGBTQ+. In tandem with Karmarama and YouGov, we’re keen to further the understanding that LGBTQ+ related media is both vital, but often misdelivers.”

Karmarama is the UK’s most progressive creative agency, part of Accenture Interactive, working across advertising, PR, data-driven communications, mobile platforms and products, digital and innovation. The agency is known for its ability to blend creativity, digital and data, to help brands better engage with consumers. Or as Karmarama calls it – Connected Creativity. It is one of the most effective agencies in the UK and has won the DMA Grand Prix for the last two successive years, in 2017 for its work for the Army. It was again the highest ranked creative agency in the Sunday Times Top 100 Companies to Work For in 2019.