>>No one wants to talk about multiculturalism because it often takes us outside of our comfort zone. But as an industry, we need to keep multiculturalism front of mind if we are going to connect with America's "minority majority" population.
>>Multiculturalism is not just a buzzword or a corporate mandate. It's a reality.
Media Madness Q&A
Q: If ethnic consumers purchase the product, why shouldn't a percentage of the budget be allocated to ethnic marketing?
A: (PC version): They're not the intended target.
A: (backroom version): They'll ruin the brand image.
Q: What's harder than getting ethnic-owned or ethnic-targeted media on a general market media plan?
A: Recommending an ethnic consumer as the primary target.
Q: Whoever said it has to be either/or? Why can't we market to all ethnic groups?
A: We can. They all have money to spend.
An agency I admire for its sheer boldness directs clients to ignore cultural differences and speak to human truths. If only life could be so simple. Yes, the "millennial generation," as those born between 1980 and 1999 have been dubbed, is likely the most open-minded generation yet. Culture-sampling is the norm, with people taking a little bit of one culture, mixing it with another, and a dash of still others. But marketers should recognize and respect cultural roots.
Hello? Anybody Out There?
While working on a Starcom MediaVest Group diversity initiative, I researched the number of minorities in our industry. I was floored to find out that ethnic minorities make up only 16 percent of agency employees, and just 9 percent of agency executives.
Heroes of Color Who Make Me Proud
This industry is a dog-eat-dog world. Success does not come easy for anyone. Period. I have the privilege of working with women of color who are working it.
The "W" Word
In a previous life, I worked with a well-respected ad agency that actually called an African-American-targeted campaign "Project Watermelon" -- and then had the temerity to defend the title to a group of senior-level African-American professionals! Believe it; I was there. As an industry, we must adopt a policy of "zero tolerance" for intolerance.
Keep It Real
"Lazy black people in America without jobs are responsible for the Internet shopping trend." So said a Chinese teen in a recent focus group. The Internet shopping thing is odd, but the teen's notion of African-Americans is no mystery. Images of black people as drug dealers and prostitutes are broadcast all over the world. Be cognizant of the images you put out and be accountable for them.
Our neighborhoods are still segregated, and so is much of what we watch, listen to, and read. If you want to make long-lasting impressions, it's vital to connect via culturally relevant messages and media. Messages that don't speak to a community's reality will cost you trust in your message and brand.
Kendra Hatcher is a vice president and director of consumer context planning at Starcom MediaVest Group's Coca-Cola City unit. (firstname.lastname@example.org)