Top 10 Corporate Marketers in the U.S. Asian Market in 2009

Setting the Stage for the Year of the Tiger

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Bill Imada
Bill Imada
Most of us want to forget about 2009. The loss of clients. Reduced budgets. Layoffs, reduced hours, and awkward moments around the proverbial water cooler. But with the bad comes some good. And for corporate marketers who stayed the course in marketing to Asian Americans, you've made my Top 10 list of the top corporate marketers in the U.S. Asian market. I'd like to thank all the media, various agency leaders and my own team for helping me with this annual ranking. Please note that this ranking is based primarily on what I have seen, read and heard about the great work being done by these corporate marketers, their agencies and employees. (Here's last year's list.) And for full disclosure, my agency represents three of these Top 10 marketers: McDonald's, Farmers Insurance and MetLife.

Here is my list of the Top 10 corporate marketers in the U.S. Asian market in 2009:

1. State Farm
While budgetary pressures have clearly impacted the insurance industry, State Farm has shown significant resilience by continuing to actively and visibly market in the top Asian-American DMAs nationwide. Its marketing, advertising and public relations teams continue to receive accolades from industry and civic leaders throughout the country. Furthermore, the advertising and marketing budgets reflect the importance they place on reaching Asian-American consumers. Finally, its senior leadership is more reflective of the diversity that exists in our community, which is clearly a competitive advantage for this company.

2. McDonald's
This company has moved up in my ranking because its team continues to believe in leading with ethnic insights as it integrates multicultural marketing throughout the McDonald's system. The company's CMO surrounds himself with some of the brightest minds in marketing, and his team is always demanding even better advertising and marketing work at each and every turn. Well executed PR and strong ties to the company's vast network of franchise owners add to the continuing success of this quick service restaurant establishment.

3. Verizon/Verizon Wireless
Fueled primarily by its wireless division's strong commitment to advertising and marketing, Verizon continues to outpace all of its competitors in the field. While its primary rival, AT&T, has done a better job in communicating its overall commitment to the Asian-American market and community, Verizon Wireless outspends all of its competitors and has made strong inroads in building greater market share in the Asian-American market. Verizon/Verizon Wireless is also sending more of its Asian-American executives to high profile Asian community events to demonstrate its continuing commitment to diversity, inclusion and engagement.

4. Farmers Insurance
With a thinning field of competitors who have exited the Asian-American market space prematurely, Farmers continues to be a consistent corporate marketer along with its competitor, State Farm. The company continues to be aided by a strong multicultural marketing team and an active pool of Asian agents. Even with some changes in senior leadership, the company continues its path toward reaching multicultural consumers.

5. MetLife
MetLife remains one of the longest and most established insurance companies in the U.S. Asian market. For more than 20 years, it has remained steadfast in its commitment to multicultural marketing. It continues to play an active role in advertising and marketing to the Asian-American market today. Its recent sponsorship of a national spelling bee competition was a creative way to stay connected to one of its core consumers: South Asians.

6. Toyota Motor Sales
While Toyota remains the automotive brand leader in the U.S. Asian market, it wasn't immune to the precipitous decline in vehicle sales in 2009. Toyota has been a visible partner at high profile programs such as the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival in San Francisco and has a long-standing commitment to supplier diversity.

7. Wells Fargo
This bank continues to play a very visible role in the U.S. Asian markets where it has a dominant presence. And, while it still seems to be figuring out what to do with Wachovia, the bank's senior leadership hasn't missed a beat when it comes to marketing to Asian Americans. The company's strong commitment and partnership with its long-time advertising agency keeps them fully focused on the marketplace, while their highly discernible engagement in the Asian-American community is a hallmark for their continued success.

8. New York Life
This insurance company is yet another consistent marketer in the U.S. Asian market. New York Life continues to advertise in its core markets and has been a visible participant in Asian-American community events on both coasts. At the Asian MBA Conference in New York, the company had a long queue of Asian and Asian-American graduates wishing to talk about career opportunities at the company. Most of this company's advertising is done in-house.

9. JCPenney
After a few very public makeovers, JCPenney seems to have found its groove. Updated offerings, unique designer partnerships and stronger merchandising have given this retailer a whole new lease on life. Working in tandem with its long-time agency also demonstrates that the company is listening to the experts and to its customers. Asian-American community leaders have praised the retailer for its involvement at civic and community events, including important Asian-American cultural celebrations and festivals.

10. Allstate Insurance
This advertiser seems to have picked up the pace in the U.S. Asian market, but has a long way to go to catch up with industry leader, State Farm. While this company's ad spend isn't as high as its industry competitors, Allstate continues to stay in the marketplace and shouldn't be underestimated. (A very close runner-up to Allstate for the 10th spot on this list is home improve retailer Lowe's.)

The Year of the Tiger, which I will cover more acutely in my next blog entry, is expected to be a stronger, more robust year in the multicultural marketing arena. For these 10 companies, their path to success in the U.S. Asian market is already well underway.

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