Scroll to explore
ClickTap to break through
ClickTap to be fearless

Inclusive Planning: Tackling Unconscious Bias in the Media Industry


Nationwide Building Society



Positive Provocation

By transforming our approach to planning and buying media, we’ve helped Nationwide reach more diverse audiences than ever before.

Uplifts in brand health proves that inclusive planning isn’t just ‘the right thing to do’, it gives brands competitive advantage.


Nationwide Building Society are fundamentally different to the banks they compete with. They are a mutual organisation, run for the benefit of their members, and their brand purpose is to ‘build society’.

So when Nationwide reflected on their responsibility as a brand that mirrors, serves and celebrates the diversity of its members, they challenged Wavemaker to take a fresh look at our media approach.

We asked ourselves the provocative question “are we truly speaking to all of UK society, nationwide?”
We quickly realised that diverse audiences are often overlooked or misrepresented within the status quo – from the planning tools and systems we use, to the partners and platforms we invest with.

We set out to address this; we aimed to better reach and resonate with diverse audiences, but also drive change in the wider media industry too.


First, we carried out in-depth analysis of Nationwide’s audience segments, through the lens of diversity, to improve our understanding of their needs.

Then we conducted an extensive audit of a ‘typical’ broadcast campaign, assessing how well (or not) our media choices were reaching different diverse audiences.

Research from specialist consultancy DECA showed that 92% of consumers who identified as diverse wanted to see brands advertise in community media outlets, as well as mainstream channels. So we looked for authentic, credible media brands that served different communities, that could help us communicate with them better.

From a digital perspective, we recognised that smaller diverse sites worked differently to mass market partners, so we would need to collaborate with them to understand their offering and buying models, and make them viable for Nationwide’s plans.

And we identified that diverse audiences and media partners were generally absent from the tools and systems agencies use everyday, blocking progress towards better inclusivity.

We realized we need to overhaul our media approach and galvanise others in the industry to play their part too.


We started to actively diversify our media plans for Nationwide. We invested with new non-mainstream partners such as The Voice, Gay Times, Enable and Jewish News, and began reporting reach and frequency delivery against diverse audiences, for each channel, as standard.

We mined BARB data to re-set our AV channel and programming strategy to increase reach amongst different ethnic audiences and re-optimised our long-standing outdoor holding towards areas with high populations of diverse communities.  In digital we worked with GroupM to make our programmatic site-lists more diverse, and developed a more sophisticated brand safety approach with our partner IAS, to avoid unjustifiably blocking diverse content. We also banned micro-aggression language like ‘blacklists’ and ‘whitelists’ from our contracts and processes.

But we didn’t stop there. We helped diverse media partners raise their profile with other teams and clients, hosting a ‘meet and greet’ event within Wavemaker to get to know them better. Having spotted the issues within digital advertising processes acting as barriers to inclusivity, we co-created an “Introduction to Digital Display Advertising”, hosted on the IAB’s website, to help smaller, diverse media owners upskill and be better equipped to work with big clients and their agencies.

We worked with other industry bodies such as Nielsen, to support them monitoring and reporting ad spend with diverse partners, thereby normalising it and encouraging greater adoption.


18 months later, we have spent over £885,000 actively promoting and celebrating inclusivity, and have seen strong uplifts in brand health measures amongst ethnically diverse audiences (YouGov Brand Index).

Award-winning work

  • Winner, Banks and Financial Services – Campaign Media Awards 2022
Increase in prompted brand awareness
Increase in overall brand health
Increase in the likelihood for diverse audiences to recommend Nationwide

Growth Stories