The agency also created a LGBTQIA+-focused campaign for Jack Daniel's during Pride month.
Part of the strategy to reach wider audiences revolves around how Asian audiences are early adopters of apparently “new” concepts in advertising such as virtual worlds, allowing the agency to get a head start on potential fads that tend to come later to Western markets. When it comes to the metaverse, for example—“Asians and virtual reality, that was years ago,” said Song.
There is also some reluctance to spend big ad dollars on the Asian market largely because brands “look at it as being complicated,” said Imada, and lacking measurement tools. As a result, the relatively small budget the agency often gets means it has to innovate, such as taking McDonald's into the metaverse for the first time.
While the agency acknowledges that there are vast differences in the often-generalized “Asian community,” IW Group focuses on identifying commonalities—education, savings and paving the way for the younger generations. It also focuses on helping its clients develop cultural competency in smaller subsections, recognizing that brands “don’t have to be everything for everyone,” said Imada.
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The agency has created a number of national organizations including APIA scholars and a chamber of commerce, National ACE. It is working on building another national group, the National Millenial Community, that aims to highlight AAPI stories. “We’ve always looked at our role as a responsibility to lift and advocate for the Asian community,” said Song.
In terms of the agency’s own makeup, 86% of its employees identify as BIPOC and all its leaders are part of a minority population, including Asian Americans and one African American leader.