Media: Double Standards - How to tap into Britain's multicultural population

campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 26 March 2010 12:00AM

Two ethnic media specialists reveal the challenges and potential rewards that advertisers face in promoting their brands to an increasingly diverse Britain.

GLEN YEARWOOD - MANAGING DIRECTOR, UM DIVERSITY UNIT

- How does your agency provide value to advertisers?

By unlocking differentiating insights, based on our culture of curiosity, which helps drive real business value and growth solutions. With the debate about what is "British" and the changing socio-demographic environment, UM believes there is a business need to advise our clients as to where "new generations of consumers" could originate. With the 2011 Census potentially showing ethnic minority population numbers nearing 15 per cent, the unit is designed as the perfect vehicle to identify new growth channels.

- How much of what you do is about targeting specific ethnic groups?

We have two distinct priorities: a) to understand our clients' businesses in order to add value; and b) to devise strategies to engage "new audiences" and help grow our clients' businesses via a combination of alternative and non-traditional media channels. We strike a powerful narrative with this "new" audience based on a deep understanding of their preferred communications environment.

- To what degree do the people within your business reflect Britain's multicultural diversity?

While we cannot claim to have the full range of the United Nations, some 12 per cent of UM staff in London are from an ethnic minority background. This is a figure we are extremely proud of - this healthy blend of nationalities allows for better, more relevant solutions across our clients' businesses and is only going to increase moving forward.

- How good has the advertising and media industry been generally in reflecting multiculturalism in the UK?

Not good. We believe the industry needs to drive a more holistic approach to placing multiculturalism at the heart of its approach, rather than something that is added as an afterthought. For us, multiculturalism means engaging new audiences with our clients' brands, creating new ways of thinking, but also driving new revenues for the agency and a real-world necessity.

- Are there trends and changing factors in society that will result in a greater or lesser need for your services going forward?

How long do you have?! The 2011 Census figures suggest that our services will no doubt be in even greater demand. It is critical to understand that large sections of these groups are not tracked by standard advertising agency measuring tools. Many constituents are younger and more affluent than the general population and their media choices are narrower; in the main, they don't access mainstream or traditional media as we know it. As brand managers increasingly question how they can reach ethnic groups, how they can add new customers, how they can gain a competitive edge among ethnic groups, we feel we have a huge amount more to offer going forward.

- What's the most exciting project you've been involved in recently?

Collaborating with a London hip hop artist called Ghetts to use his music skills to persuade young black males to participate in the 2011 Census, and watching Spurs go for fourth place in the Premier League!

SAAD SARAF - CHIEF EXECUTIVE, MEDIAREACH ADVERTISING

- How does your agency provide value to advertisers?

We have a strong relationship with the ethnic media at a senior level, which we utilise to the benefit of our clients and advertisers when it comes to advertising campaigns, strategic media planning, selection and buying, media partnership and sponsorships. There are more than 225 multicultural media organisations and we use ones that demonstrated a good track record of delivering consistent results. This knowledge helps us spend the advertisers' budget wisely.

- How much of what you do is about targeting specific ethnic groups?

Mediareach Advertising was set up 21 years ago with a specific remit to target the UK multicultural population in the UK, and almost all of our work is centred on creating and delivering messages aimed at more than 26 languages and cultures.

- To what degree do the people within your business reflect Britain's multicultural diversity?

The composition of the staff at Mediareach reflects the diversity we see in our everyday life. In fact, we have 17 staff speaking 15 languages and we share and understand each other's culture and psychographics, which allows us to deliver some of the most successful campaigns to date for private sector clients and government departments alike.

- How good has the advertising and media industry been generally in reflecting multiculturalism in the UK?

The ethnic media have grown dramatically from eight titles 20 years ago to more than 56 TV stations, 24 radio channels and more than 180 titles targeting both younger generations as well as the gatekeepers and influencers. Unfortunately, and especially in post-recession Britain, the same old formula will no longer cut it with consumers. Brands may come to realise that prosperity in post-recession Britain will depend on their ability to move with the culture and display an open and honest two-way communication with their diverse customer base. The lack of multicultural staff at media departments means multicultural news and issues are not highlighted and are only covered when there is controversy that is almost entirely negative in tone.

- Are there trends and changing factors in society that will result in a greater or lesser need for your services going forward?

In the past few years, we have seen the increasing number of Eastern European communities coming in their millions to the UK and the impact that had on cities, government and eventually on advertisers keen to target new groups of people with demands for their products and services. The world is becoming a smaller place and as Europe expands the shape of things to come will be more diverse groups settling in the UK.

- What's the most exciting project you've been involved in recently?

I am proud of all of our campaigns that we have delivered for COI and Premier Foods. With our campaign for the Department of Health (Hepatitis C), we managed to deliver some amazing results and calls to the Asian helplines topped those generated by the main agency and that with a far smaller budget.

This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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