Big Agencies 'Discovering' Importance of Multicultural Is a Good Thing

Quit Obsessing on What They Are (or Aren't Doing) and Focus On Your Core Strengths

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Bill Imada
Bill Imada
Several leaders in the multicultural advertising arena continue to talk about the need for diversity, inclusion and engagement.

I'm one of those leaders.

Yet many of these same people are also engaged in repetitious discussions and heated debates about the shifting demographic landscape of North America, and what that means for corporate marketers, traditional media, ad and PR agencies, schools and government.

I'm not part of this persistent and vociferous crowd.

What's puzzling to me about this ongoing banter is this growing resentment and disdain for mass-market (aka "general market") advertising and public-relations agencies who are now engaged in multicultural marketing.

So what?

Doesn't diversity, inclusion and engagement also include the leaders of mass-market ad, media and marketing agencies?

It isn't an industry secret that Canada and the U.S. have evolving populations that look nothing like our parents' generation. Smart agency leaders know that their future fortunes will need to rely, at least in part, on building market share with ethnic and other multicultural consumers who are now a part of today's general market.

Most of the multicultural agencies are smaller agencies that focus narrowly on niche markets (e.g., African Americans, Latinos/Hispanics, Asian Americans, gays/lesbians, women, et al). I should know. I am the chairman and CEO of a niche agency. But I'm also an entrepreneur and business owner. And I thrive on fierce competition and the twists and turns of co-managing a multicultural agency that can't remain static.

It's great that many of the mid-to-large mass-market ad and media agencies have finally discovered the importance of multicultural marketing. And I anticipate that more will follow. The smartest multicultural agencies will continue to be innovative, focus on customer service, expand their practices to include more markets, and build on the key findings that helped them grow and thrive in the first place. The smart agency leaders will also capitalize on the advances they've already made in today's multicultural markets and build on those core findings. After all, today's multicultural markets are also today's general market.

Corporate marketers, governmental agencies and others seeking sound advertising, marketing and communications advice want creative solutions, thoughtful approaches, crisp new ideas, and genuine engagement with their agency partners, regardless of their size, their ethnic makeup or annual billables.

I encourage ethnic and multicultural agencies to spend more time focusing on baking more pies and less time worrying about having their pies eaten by the bigger players in town.

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