Top 10 List of News Items Relevant to Multicultural Marketing and Diversity in 2019

October 28, 2019

By Bill Duggan

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As we approach the 21st annual ANA Multicultural Marketing & Diversity Conference, it’s a good time to step back and reflect on news from the past year that is relevant to multicultural marketing and diversity. Here’s my top ten list, in no particular order:

  1. For the first time, most new hires of prime working age (25 to 54) are people of color, according to a Washington Post analysis.
  2. In its latest update, the Merriam-Webster dictionary identifies 533 new words and new meanings, including new words/meanings about race and identity. One of these is “inclusive,” where a new meaning has been added — “allowing and accommodating people who have historically been excluded (as because of their race, gender, sexuality, or ability).”
  3. K-pop has exploded. BTS, a seven-member South Korean boy band, were just nominated in three categories for the upcoming 2019 American Music Awards in the categories of Favorite Duo or Group — a Pop/Rock, Favorite Social Artist and Tour of the Year.
  4. Mattel, makers of the iconic Barbie doll, introduced a line of gender-neutral dolls that can each be a boy, a girl, both, or neither. Called Creatable World, the dolls are available in different skin tones, two wigs per doll and a variety of wardrobe options. Mattel created the dolls after research showed that kids didn't want to be told "boys have to play with cars and girls have to play with dolls.” Mattel also has a BTS line of dolls.
  5. A new analysis of 1,200 films released since 2007 found that of 47,268 speaking characters, just 4.5 percent were Latino, a disappointing statistic for Hollywood given that 39 percent of Californians and 18 percent of the U.S. population are Hispanic or Latino.
  6. There was on-going drama about adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census: “Is this person a citizen of the United States?” The ad industry was concerned that the question would depress response among both non-citizens and their families and census results would be flawed. Ultimately, the Supreme Court blocked the addition of the question.
  7. In September, Saturday Night Live announced the addition of three new cast members including Bowen Yang, which was noteworthy as he’s the only Asian American series regular in the cast. Just a few weeks later, one of the new cast members, Shane Gillis, was fired after videos of him making bigoted comments surfaced.
  8. This Is America,” performed by rapper Childish Gambino, won numerous awards at the 2019 Grammys, including Song of the Year. The song addresses gun violence, mass shootings, as well as racism and discrimination against African-Americans.
  9. The 1619 Project, a major initiative from The New York Times, observes the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It aims to “reframe the country’s history, understanding 1619 as our true founding, and placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are.”
  10. U.S. Multicultural Media Forecast 2019,” conducted by PQ Media on behalf of the ANA’s Alliance for Inclusive and Multicultural Marketing (AIMM), shows multicultural media spending is disproportionate to the population. Multicultural consumers comprise almost 40 percent of the total U.S. population, yet multicultural media investments make up only 5.2 percent of total advertising and marketing spending. As a result, many marketers are missing the opportunity to drive growth by not engaging multicultural consumers.

I collected these news items over the course of the past ten months and they’ve made me think and reflect — I hope they provide some value to you as well. See you at ANA’s 21st annual Multicultural Marketing & Diversity Conference next week in San Diego.


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