The second critical factor when attempting to engage a multicultural audience is language.
Seems obvious, doesn't it? But wait, here's the secret.


Before you can get under someone’s skin you’ve got to live in their skin.
In other words, understand their psychographics.
Get on the same bandwidth.

This approach requires open-mindedness, an appetite for cultural nuance and subtlety, a love of challenge. But it can be done.
To borrow the words of the great Hollies song, he ain't heavy, he's my brother.

Much is made of the cultural differences between various ethnic groups in Canada. Chinese market experts tout their expertise in reaching their fellow immigrants. South Asian market experts flaunt theirs.

Meanwhile, south of the 44th parallel, the Hispanic population has outstripped the African American population. Though one might think this would establish the position of Hispanics in the mainstream, advertising agencies and marketers are spending vast amounts of time and brainpower to say that only a Hispanic agency can produce messaging that will connect with this powerful new audience effectively. It’s an old idea. It’s a well-used idea. It’s an idea whose time has gone.

There is one way to reach a minority audience. To connect, to engage, to be significant, one has to understand what it feels like to be that minority.

“Ich bin ein Berliner” said JFK (unfortunately claiming kinship with a sausage in the process – but we know what he meant).
“I am a Berliner. I am one of you. I too live with the Wall. I feel your pain at being separated from your countrymen.”
The brilliance of the line, of the sentiment, was not one of timing important as it was. Its brilliance lies in empathy.

You aren't heavy if you're my brother.

The door to the mind of a Chinese housewife in Mongkok, Hong Kong or in Agincourt, in the GTA is the same.
And it takes the same key to open it.
That very key also opens the door into the mind of a Tamil accountant in Matunga, Mumbai or in Cedarbrae, Scarborough.

That key is openness. Openness is all. So, marketers, are you?
No habla multiculturalese? You're screwed.

copyright 2007 Gavin Barrett All rights reserved

Right. This posting picks up where the "...Stoopid" posting left off. So how do you talk to the multicultural market without pissing anyone off? Here it is. For free. No holds barred. Nothing hidden. Nothing held back. A drum roll please, for step one:


or, to put it another way


That's right. We tell all our clients that any multicultural advertising they do should bear a strong resemblance to the brand work they are currently running in the mainstream. We find our clients tremendously relieved to hear this.

The truth is, if you've created a brand you have already created an idea of who you are in the public space. A relationship exists. For a multicultural audience, you now need to explain that relationship in a culturally relevant fashion. But you don't have to change who you are to do it.

We know that this works from experience. Here's why:

It reinforces your brand in the advertising; in other words the advertising helps your brand while doing the job it needs to do.

It reinforces your advertising by linking it to your brand (which already lives in the public space); in other words your brand helps your advertising do its job.

In addition, it prevents the alienation of ethnic audiences, who are hypersensitive to obviously “segregated” approaches.
This seems paradoxical, but it is simpler to understand when we put it in the words of a multicultural consumer.
"Treat me the same, but understand my differences."

Our approach is very much in keeping with best practices in ethnic marketing. Case studies of ethnic campaigns that correctly engage their audiences while maintaining brand fidelity are aplenty. (Rogers, Telus, Bank of America).
For a company devoted to establishing what the best practices are in a nascent industry, this sounds like a waffle. It isn't.
A good idea is a good idea even if it's someone else's - in the case of Rogers though, it was ours.

copyright 2006 Gavin Barrett All rights reserved
A short Eid wish from us.
Click on "Eid Mubarak" (above) to view the greeting.

Because it is better to have an idea than to curse the multicultural market with more darkness.
A short Diwali wish from us, Click on Shubh Labh (above) to view the greeting.

Because it is better to have an idea than to curse the multicultural market with more darkness.

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