Many of the multicultural marketing agencies and experts devote a lot of time getting marketers to fund great ideas and programs to tap into the multicultural market. Yet, it is no wonder many of these shops -- typically "traditional" ad agencies -- are challenged with slow to no growth. The speakers at the ANA Masters in Marketing held last week focused on different problems. The topics of the day did not include the importance, size and spending power of U.S. multicultural marketing at all.
Multicultural agencies must figure out how to be a part of the conversations and problems marketers are focusing on. If we can't talk in the language of "community of influence" as Chuck Brymer, president of DDB mentioned, or the user-generated branding power that Al Gore mentioned, the priority of multicultural marketing (and budgets) will continue to fall.
Many large marketers -- Nike, for example -- are taking huge chunks of money out of their traditional-media budgets and using the funds to develop new, more-direct interactions with consumers -- not only on the Internet, but also through in-person events. Globalization, branded content, user-generated content, marketing reinvention, consumer innovation and interaction are the big concerns of the moment. Any topic outside of that focus -- and that includes multicultural marketing of the traditional kind -- will have to fight for share of mind and garner minuscule budgets.
Maybe we should rethink our role as multicultural experts in the general market landscape and provide solutions that are more closely aligned with what marketers are challenged with. How can marketers leverage the multicultural relationship and create positive energy for the brand beyond culture?
How can marketers take advantage of the huge cultural influence black and Hispanic culture has in the general market when it comes to user-generated content? Maybe a virtual world with Avatars that is actually culturally authentic.
How do you move from a subset to a driver of influence for the brand? The Zumba exercise craze is an example of Latin influence impacting the heartland of America.
And more importantly, for those with the answers must figure out a way for the ad community share stories of success or ideas for consumer innovation and interaction beyond the multicultural departments and agencies.
If the traditional multicultural ad firms can't fill the need, a growing segment of marketing, event and interactive firms will step in. Some that are hot right now are GTM and Commonground. As marketers continually look for solutions, the ones that can break through with strategic solutions for connecting with influential consumers and driving demand from multicultural influencers that can affect the masses will be the ones surviving.