Tag Archives: multicultural marketing

Advertising Shifting Away from “Multicultural” Agencies, Marketing Practices

by Latoya Peterson

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In the ad world, “multicultural marketing” and “narrowcasting” is out. The “best ideas” are supposed to win business and carry the day.  So how does that suddenly translate to “give larger, less diverse companies all the work and hope minority shops partner with them?”

Last week, Ad Age published a summary of the Association of National Advertisers’ Multicultural Marketing & Diversity Conference, where the writing on the wall was clear: niche marketing is out of fashion.  In some ways, this idea could have been a good thing.  After all, a lot of the “diversity” ideas coming from advertising outlets are patronizing, at best.

When asked whether he had considered working with a Hispanic shop rather than Ogilvy for the effort, Mr. Yokoi said, “I don’t want to disparage anyone, but we had been working with a Hispanic agency and the creative wasn’t working. It didn’t jibe with our general-market strategy.”

How? “Every Hispanic ad had a picnic” with a revolving cast of Latin musicians, he said. “It was almost patronizing.”

Certainly, minority owned businesses can spread stereotypes and rely on lazy marketing like any other agencies.  But the conclusions early on in the article gave me pause:

Speakers were almost universal in their belief that narrow-casting one group, such as African-Americans or Hispanics, is missing the point. Teresa Iglesias-Solomon, VP-multicultural and Latino initiatives at Best Buy, said the company had a tendency to break out three groups: women, Latinos and business owners — but she herself could have been lumped into all three categories at once. The point, she said, is that there are commonalities within each target group. “We need to make sure we are looking at the whole customer.” For example, moms have similar interests whether they are African-American, Asian-American, Hispanic or Caucasian.

That kind of insight was the impetus behind OgilvyCulture, a new “cross-cultural strategic-service practice” now launching from the WPP Group agency.

“It is not multicultural advertising, which tends to focus on specific ethnic markets,” said a spokeswoman. Instead, “cross-cultural marketing has the objective of developing one brief for clients designed to communicate across different cultures by celebrating shared values and insights.” [...]

“It gives us the capability to have a single voice to the consumer,” said Jeffrey Bowman, director of OgilvyCulture, who presented at the conference with his client, Ruy Yokoi, brand manager at Unilever.

Reading through the ideas and anecdotes presented, the overall message was clear: there is no need to specifically target racial and ethnic groups, and by extension, minority owned ad shops would need to partner with with larger, less diverse agencies in order to win business.

Luckily, HighJive and Pepper Miller were able to point out the underlying issues: this is yet another push to undermine minority owned advertising shops and minimize the impact of consumers of color. Continue reading