Creating a successful multicultural marketing division

A Future of Fairness includes a roadmap for companies to follow no matter where they are on their diversity and inclusion journey.

Writing for our publication A Future of Fairness, Serhat Ekinci explains why Omnicom Media Group's multicultural marketing division changed their approach and the success it has brought.

The importance of diversity and inclusion has gained traction in recent years, resulting in a lot of improvements across the sector. While most of these conversations have been about people, culture and creative, the media side of diversity and inclusion has not received as much attention.

Multicultural marketing has always been separated, with independent multicultural agencies working in this space whose approach to media is completely different to mainstream agencies. Most of their work is with multicultural brands or for mainstream brands on specific campaigns for ethnic minorities, which tends to be disconnected from the mainstream brand’s activity. On the other side are the mainstream agencies, where the ethnicity or religion of consumers is never considered, unless specifically mentioned in the brief.

Barriers to multicultural marketing

There is a tendency to slice and dice our audiences by age, gender, location, socioeconomic status and the like across our work in research, media planning, and buying, yet aspects of being, such as ethnicity or religion that impact us and our lives so significantly – because of how we’re seen or perceived, how we dress, what we eat, the things we celebrate and value, people we see and look up to, family dynamics, the content and media we consume – do not even feature in the questions we ask on every single brief.

To add to this, some of the tools and data used for decades for insight, planning and buying by agencies have significant bias. Many don’t have representative sample sizes for ethnic minorities, while those that do can be too small for deeper understanding of various groups. On the traditional media side, this has created significant issues for multicultural media outlets for measurement, with many opting not to go on measurement platforms. To make matters worse, the content and media consumed by multicultural audiences were barriers for mainstream advertising because 'whitelists' of sites created for brand-safety purposes excluded many, if not all, of the multicultural media outlets. Keywords such as 'Asian', 'Muslim' and 'Black' used to block adult and harmful contents, meaning that brand-safe content and media consumed by these communities are also excluded, hence missing important touchpoints within consumers’ lives.

A change of approach

It was for these reasons, alongside many others, that in Omnicom Media Group’s multicultural marketing division, we changed our approach. Rather than waiting for a mention of multicultural in briefs or products specifically for these communities, we proactively started looking at mainstream briefs through a multicultural consumer lens, with an audience and content-led approach. This moved us away from unconscious bias to conscious inclusion: quite simply, asking the right questions to truly understand our consumer every step of the way.

When looking at our target audience, we look to find the make-up of that audience by diversity. We look to see how ethnicity and religion might affect the way they may consume our clients’ products; whether the message and creative we want to communicate would resonate with them, taking meaningful reach over just incremental reach; whether our work represents their lifestyles and experiences; and whether the content and media we use are inclusive of the ones that may be consumed by multicultural communities, ensuring they are not excluded along the way.

Three years on, with 30+ new brands and eight awards across OMG agencies and numerous successful campaigns for our clients, measured on both brand and performance metrics, we’re proud to say that it works. Our belief is simple; the more we help our agencies and clients be inclusive in their marketing while hitting their business objectives, not only will there be more demand for a more diverse workforce but our multicultural colleagues will feel proud of our inclusive work. After all, we can’t expect people to feel included if our work is not representative of them.

The piece first appeared in A Future of Fairness - continue reading


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Last updated 01 May 2024