As a new year begins, there is a sense of optimism regarding the outlook for multicultural marketing investments. Ahead of the holiday break, I reached out to a few industry leaders representing different sectors and discussed trends for 2022.
Here’s an edited transcript of my conversations with Albert Rodriguez, President and COO of SBS – The Spanish Broadcasting System, one of the country’s leading radio networks, Nita Song, President of IW Group, a leading advertising agency focused on AAPI, John Cusack, Executive Vice President, Multimedia Sales at Univision and Michael Rocca, Managing Director of DE&I Investment, Omnicom Media Group.
1 – Do you see 2022 with high demand for multicultural media/creative services?
Michael Rock- Yes – I see it for the Hispanic, Black, Asian, and LGBTQ+ communities. We’ll see exemplary spikes in culturally relevant creativity during Heritage Month celebrations (February for Black History, May for AAPI Heritage, etc.), but with stronger potential to expand into more moments throughout the year.
Nita Song Yes, I think there will be an increased demand for media and multicultural creativity in 2022. We’ve seen that in the past year, and we’re also seeing an increase in multicultural representation in “public market” creations, which I expect will also continue to grow. The key question would be: Do customers effectively support the growth of both strategies?
Albert Rodriguez It is amazing how many advertisers strive for innovative and culturally appealing media campaigns/designs that truly address a multicultural audience. As it relates to Hispanic society, the imprints of our culture can be found across all forms of media. Whether through bilingual audio campaigns, the emergence of Latin music, the growth of diverse talent representation in the public market and the Spanish campaigns – nuestra gente, our people are everywhere. The message couldn’t be clearer, especially with the latest census results, the minority community is growing, and if you don’t grow with them, you’re hurting your business.
John Cusack – yes I do. In fact, we already have more new commercial customers with our Upfront software than ever before. Advertisers are of the opinion that running a public spot on the English language is not enough to deliver meaningful results to truly connect and build affinity with this audience. The simple fact is that creative in language and in culture leads to greater recall and return on ad spend for advertisers. Combine that with the fact that brands know what a strong growth segment for Hispanic consumers is, and it’s hard to overlook Hispanic-targeted media.
2 – Why do you see the trend above?
Roca The progressive cultural narrative pushes all brand decision makers to be more inclusive, and the reason behind this is that they are now in charge from Wall Street to the C-Suite.
Song The racial and social justice issues of the pandemic have required brands to take a critical look at their human development and engagement strategies and their impact and prioritize their efforts. In addition, the results of the 2020 census confirmed the growth of the multicultural population. Finally, I think the pandemic has led brands to focus on protecting strategies from the future, including Generation Z, who is more racially and ethnically diverse.
Rodriguez It is a combination of several factors: the social justice movement, a growing minority population, and its purchasing power. The influence of Blacks, Hispanics, and Asian Americans on mainstream culture and their ability to tell if brands are making a concerted effort to foster a deep and meaningful relationship. Frankly, the high demand for multicultural media should not be considered a trend but a necessity.
kozak – This is twofold. First, brands and marketers recognize the need to be more inclusive in their marketing plans. There has been a real effort over the past year to invest in minority media to reach a truly multicultural audience. Second, with empirical shifts and new census data, marketers are waking up to the fact that investing in minority media is not only the right thing to do, but also an investment in their future growth.
3 – Is this driven by existing brands, “returning brands” (previous multicultural plans have been reduced or canceled due to Total Market and are now back), or new posts?
Roca – It’s all brands, multicultural heavy hitters, brands that have been dormant, as well as newcomers who are now dipping their toes in the water.
Song – Both. Brands that are back stronger, new brands/categories including pharmaceuticals, streaming services, and entertainment.
Rodriguez We see today’s big brands stepping up and taking the lead with powerful multicultural campaigns that address the real issues that affect all people of color at the fore. They are changing the game and forcing other brands to follow. While it’s quite the domino effect, and we’re seeing results in year-over-year revenue growth, there’s still a lot of work to be done. Brands have to do more than multicultural marketing; They must also invest in society and businesses.
kozak – It’s a combination of the two. We’ve seen brands come back because they’ve seen their business results affected by de-focusing on our audience. On the other hand, our new business pipeline with new entries into the market has never been stronger. In fact, categories like pharma and consumer-directed brands have increased and are seeing beneficial business results.
4 – Do you have any other comments about your predictions for 2022?
Roca – Many marketing plans are capturing the DE&I wave, so we need to make sure we continue to educate brand decision makers about the difference between multicultural marketing and DE&I; They both need each other but have very different swimming lanes.
Song – I expect 2022 to be another road trip, but we will all be stronger than ever, given what we’ve all been through in the past two years. We will all discover post-pandemic life, community/community will be more important than ever, and we will all need to be flexible during this “cool adjustment” of talent.
Rodriguez – We have embraced the challenges of 2020 and 2021 with ingenuity and innovation. Our passion to push through tough times has laid our foundation for 2022. We are open to business and work closely with brands to develop innovative cultural marketing solutions that reach our loyal audience.
Cusack – I expect this trend to continue and accelerate in 2022. Brands and agencies will want to continue to make sure they deliver on their promises to reach underserved audiences. The acceleration will come from advertisers realizing firsthand how their investments are paying off, especially when it comes to building their brands and driving convergence and thinking with their growing, loyal and spending consumer groups.
While the high level of investment in multicultural marketing is good news, marketers must understand that investments alone may not achieve the expected results if other steps are not taken, for example:
- Ensure that you have an appropriate level of investments, based on the size of the sector and growth prospects.
- Any investment in multicultural media is part of a comprehensive multicultural business plan.
- From a communication point of view, creative messages are based on relevant sector insights and original messages rather than generic versions that follow a “one size fits all” approach.
- Surround yourself with real industry experts.
In 2022 and for years to come, diverse segments will become increasingly important to marketers looking for growth, and this will also affect the level of development and attention devoted to multicultural marketing. It’s an exciting time to work with this segment, but it’s also time to develop better, deeper, and stronger capabilities in the multicultural ecosystem.