DIVERSITY AS A SELLING POINT SCORES FOR MARKETERS: INTERNAL STAFF, CONSUMERS RESPOND WELL TO EFFORTS

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Diversity was one subtle, if unintended, message of a print and outdoor campaign by Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, New York, for IBM Corp. Global Services. The ad tested in Canada and the U.K. last year and it broke in the U.S. this month.

The ads feature case studies of how real IBM Global Services consultants had measurable results on client businesses. But a group shot in one ad -- including two women, a black man and one man wearing a turban -- highlights a second point: the diversity of the Canadian operation. The U.S. ads offer a similar image.

POWERFUL MESSAGE

IBM is one of several companies that has found portraying internal diversity in advertising can have a powerful marketing message for consumers and potential employees.

"You're seeing increased interest from companies [in portraying their internal diversity in consumer marketing] because they're seeing increased results from it," says Mauricio Velasquez, president of Diversity Training Group, which helps others develop marketing materials that portray their diversity. "Companies that have diverse employees representing them also have more diverse [consumer bases]."

Mr. Velasquez handles clients such as Black & Decker Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co. and Carrier Corp.

The Tiger Woods effect on professional golf is a classic example of this, says Mr. Velasquez.

"He represents whole segments of the population that were not served or even reflected in advertising in the golf world, and he has attracted [to the sport] a whole segment of the population that didn't feel spoken to before," he says.

Such was the power of the unintended diversity message in the Global Services campaign that IBM now uses it for recruitment efforts inside Canada, says Anne Hay, communications director for the Canadian unit. Even so, she insists the employees pictured weren't chosen to paint a diverse picture of the company.

"Clearly, we never would have launched a campaign focused only on white men," she says. "But our primary objective was to pinpoint the areas of our business we wanted to focus on, and then we went down and found actual teams. . . . When I first saw the photo, I said: `Wow!' But it was not planned."

AWARENESS UP

The campaign also produced strong business results, says Ms. Hay, claiming a seven percentage point increase in unaided consumer awareness of IBM as a leading information technology provider in Canada.

The campaign also shows the company's youthful employees, says Martin Susz, director of corporate advertising for IBM in the U.S., who handles the company's more intentional diversity marketing efforts.

That helps combat the image held "by a lot of people outside IBM who still see it as old and stodgy -- my father's IT [information technology] company," says Mr. Susz.

As part of its more formal diversity advertising efforts, IBM runs print ads highlighting the company's commitment to diversity in hiring and career advancement. IBM has 26 diversity councils at units worldwide to focus on hiring and other work issues.

In the U.S., 13.6% of IBM officials and managers and 16.7% of marketing staff are minorities, while 24.8% and 27.6% of each group, respectively, are women. IBM's internal diversity ads run regularly they also appear in special diversity issues of publications such as Atlantic Monthly, Forbes, USA Todaym and The Wall Street Journal, says Mr. Susz.

BELLSOUTH EFFORTS EXPAND

BellSouth Corp. is another company that has made a growing commitment to diversity advertising in recent years, expanding the media used and tripling its investment in diversity ads in 1999 over year-ago levels, says William Pate, VP-advertising and PR.

The company ranked first of 17 telecommunications companies in an NAACP diversity test released last year. NAACP notes 26% of BellSouth's total U.S. workforce are minorities and more than 50% are women; more than 20% of its advertising is allocated to reach minorities.

But highlighting any awards the company has earned or detailing internal diversity programs in advertising doesn't suit the company's style, says Mr. Pate.

`We're trying to be anchored in humanity, in talking about our people and the connections we make between people," he says.

MAKING CONNECTIONS

BellSouth's diversity campaign, handled by Dayn Mark Advertising, Atlanta, has featured employees as a way of highlighting internal diversity. Although this year's diversity campaign again will feature employees, Mr. Pate has tried to steer it toward being more of an extension of brand advertising -- reflecting how BellSouth makes connections between people.

Difficulty in making the connection between internal diversity and brand advertising keeps the nation's No. 2 advertiser, Procter & Gamble Co., from highlighting its diversity record, though the company has been a public advocate for more diversity in the ranks of the advertising community and has improved its own recruitment of women and minorities in recent years.

P&G does not run corporate advertising, and ads for its brands typically focus on product benefits rather than employees.

EXPANDED ROLE

Texaco continues to focus heavily on diversity in all aspects of its advertising, says Mary Moran, corporate ad director.

"Diversity is reflected in all of the company's communications activities, not the least of which is advertising," says Ms. Moran.

Texaco's "A world of energy" image campaign by BBDO Worldwide, New York, has been running since 1997 and will soon have a companion series created by Chisholm-Mingo Group, New York. The new TV and print ads, expected to break in the second quarter, will target African-American influentials and opinion leaders.

Texaco added Chisholm to its agency roster in December to expand its African-American communications efforts. UniWorld Group, New York, handles Texaco's African-American ads for retail and product services.

"We are a global company and we work very hard to represent the kind of company we are by including a broad range of different kinds of people in our commercials," says Ms. Moran. "We want to represent the kinds of people with

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