Takeaways from the Multicultural Excellence Awards Judging

September 18, 2013

By Yasmin Melendez, director of committees and conferences, ANA

Last week, 15 ANA members from a variety of industries including financial services, QSR, CPG, health care, spirits and telecommunications gathered at ANA headquarters to review over 185 entries submitted for the Multicultural Excellence Awards. Now in its 13th year, these awards recognize marketers and their agencies or media company for their outstanding work in advertising to African-American, Asian, Hispanic, and LGBT audiences.

Over the course of two days, judges evaluated 370 pieces of creative and discussed and sometimes debated the cultural insights used to target multicultural segments in a variety of mediums. The predominant sentiment was that although the discipline has made great strides, there's still a lot of work to be done. Here are some of the takeaways I took from the experience:

  • Senior Management Support Matters  This year two entries pushed boundaries by portraying interracial or intercultural couples. According to the 2010 census, interracial and intercultural couples represent 10 percent of couples in the U.S. That's over 30 million Americans! Companies such as General Mills and American Family Insurance among others have started to show this new reality in their advertising and have met with public criticism. Having the commitment from the C-suite to weather the storm will ensure that marketers continue to break new ground.
  • Execution Counts More Than Budgets  It was refreshing to see creative that were simple and yet powerfully effective in targeting their respective audience segment. While budget cuts may force some marketers to translate general market creative, being targeted and using cultural insights always has more impact.
  • Multicultural Marketing Goes Beyond Color  While the majority of the budgets are spent in marketing to Hispanics, African-American and Asians, this year we saw campaigns targeting Indians, Native Americans, Brazilians, and Western European ex-patriots living in the United States. Cultural insights go beyond skin color and the opportunities for marketers are endless if done right.
  • The Void of Luxury Brand Advertisers  The 2010 census data revealed that "affluent" Hispanics, African-Americans and Asians each comprise 7 to 9 percent of the U.S. population. Affluents are categorized as those with a household income of at least $100k. While kudos to those luxury brands that are marketing to multicultural consumers, the examples we reviewed showed that there's still a long way to go.
  • "Total Market" Can Go Awry The "Total Market" Approach is seen as a cost effective way to connect with several segments, but if not executed properly the creative can underwhelm. The best total market creative surprised and delighted judges in its subtle and yet powerful use of cultural insights to transcend ethnicity.

I am excited to see how multicultural marketing is evolving. On November 4, we will announce the 2013 Multicultural Excellence Award grand prize winners in nine categories. If you want to see the best multicultural campaigns of the year, join us at the ANA Multicultural Marketing & Diversity Conference, November 3-5 at the JW Marriott in Los Angeles, CA. Register to attend or view the agenda online.  

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