Takeaways From the Association of National Advertisers Multicultural Conference

Latino small business owners advertising

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When the CMO of Proctor and Gamble, Marc Pritchard spoke the next day, he made the event very personal by revealing some very personal information.  He looks very Anglo and he has a very Germanic name, but it turns out he is half Mexican and was adopted by the family with the Germanic name. 

So all of this advertising meant something to him personally.  And their advertising wasn’t fuzzy at all.  It was selling stuff, and doing so very effectively by using cultural cues inside jokes, all with just the right tone.

The other speakers were nice, they showed lovely ads, but most were spouting the company line and it felt more like compliance and PR than marketing. 

BUT, and it’s a big BUT, this is all taking place at a time where multiculturalism itself is under assault and not in a trivial way.   So even the obligatory PR has to be admired for the willingness of these very visible companies to show Spanish speakers in ads intended for English television, for showing Gay couples doing laundry just like normal people, for highlighting the contributions and commitments of Black fathers, for including Asians in all-Asian contexts and not just as tokens.

The gentleman who spoke from SunTrust Bank, a major player in the Southeast, was by far the most compelling because he was the most honest.  A Black man who went to Duke undergrad and Berkeley for his MBA and worked in Silicon Valley for a decade or so, found himself in a very conservative bank in a very conservative area of the country, and he knew he was facing a big uphill battle in bringing multiculturalism into his institution. 

So he started small, doing little things, using some imagery and a lot of hiring to start to slowly evolve the culture of his work environment.  His examples were impressive but again his honesty was too. 

The lesson I got from his presentation was that you don’t have to make everything perfect overnight.  You just have to try and try and try.  You can’t give up – a good lesson for us all.

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About the author

Carlos E. Garcia

Carlos E. Garcia, born to Mexican immigrant parents, grew up in East Los Angeles and attended Pomona College, UC Berkeley and National University (BA, MA and MBA respectively).  He has over thirty years of experience in the field of US Hispanic consumer research, twenty one years at the helm of his own company, Garcia Research.  Most recently  SVP at GfK: Knowledge Networks, where he headed up their Hispanic research efforts. He's gone full circle and now back at the helm of Garcia Research, a Hispanic market and Multicultural-focused research firm.

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