A Sept. 4 post claiming multicultural marketing is dead with the headline, "As Sun Sets on Multicultural Space, Execs Must Adapt," drew a wide range of comments from Ad Age readers. The Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies responds:
On behalf of the Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies (AHAA), we respectfully disagree with the author's statements. Multicultural marketing is alive and kicking, and there will always be a place for multicultural marketing in the landscape of America.
Multicultural marketing agencies continue to grow, often defying traditional marketing paradigms. Agency membership in AHAA has remained consistent and we have seen a number of new organizations enter the field including boutiques and media house affiliates. The Hispanic advertising industry is growing four times faster than all other sectors of advertising. While we agree that companies should devote more than the current 5% of their overall advertising budgets, the last ten years have shown a constant and consistent Hispanic allocation, regardless of market downturns.
As the voice of the Hispanic-specialized marketing industry, we know that cultural relevance remains the trump card in marketing, regardless of the population segment you are trying to reach (urban/suburban/rural, gay/straight, affluent/working class). Therefore, it is vital to have marketing practitioners who not only reflect the target market but also understand these cultural nuances.
Language is and will continue to be a factor in marketing -- just ask media giant Univision. Univision -- and other Spanish-language networks, Telemundo, Vme and Azteca TV -- continues to rapidly grow and expand, often beating out general market networks (NBC, ABC, CBS and FOX) in ratings , especially in top Hispanic markets.
Hispanic media, much like the general market, has had to adapt to the current environment with robust digital portals that stream live news to up-to-the-minute mobile marketing. The trend of mass marketing to marketing-to-one has picked up steam both in mainstream marketing AND multicultural marketing, where cultural pride continues to be central to the American identity. The mentality of "Does this company get me?" coupled with technology and the global trends of customization, personalization, and inter-connectivity have all led to a market-wide flourishing in multicultural digital strategy and public relations. Traditional advertising, which was once the cornerstone in the multicultural marketing mix, now shares the stage with digital, promotions and public relations -- the revenue streams of which continue to increase.
No, multicultural marketing is far from dead. Ethnic agencies are on the rise, and even agency powerhouses have gotten wise and boast internal multicultural departments that seamlessly expand a campaign, make it their own and give it a new voice. The question becomes, once minorities become the majority, what will happen to general market marketing?