Brands Need Music to Connect with Multicultural Audiences

By Khee Lee

Today's brands are increasingly seeking to reach diverse, multicultural audiences to drive revenue. We have seen it with Coca-Cola's "America is Beautiful" ads and Adobe's "When I See Black." However, attempts to reach new audiences can feel inauthentic or simply ineffective.

Grassroots outreach is a challenge, not because these companies aren't committed to crossing the cultural divide but because sometimes the scale of the advertisement can wash away meaningful cultural connection points. For advertisers, music — particularly in-person and virtual concerts — can be a tremendously impactful way to reach these audiences.

Music is one of the biggest connectors between people around the world and within our own communities. According to a study by Nielsen, music is a "key component of Hispanic life and Hispanics are among the most enthusiastic consumers of music across a variety of genres regardless of acculturation level."

Now, Hispanics in the U.S. are diverse and multifaceted — some new immigrants who only speak Spanish, others are fourth or fifth generation U.S. Americans, some from Latin America, and/or others from South America. However, music is one cultural touchpoint that binds them together and brands should lean into it.

As the U.S. population continues to grow, the U.S. consumer is increasingly becoming the multicultural consumer. By 2043, multicultural consumers are projected to be most of the U.S. population in the next 20 years. Currently, multicultural consumers account for nearly 40 percent of the population, however, multicultural media investments make up only 5.2 percent of total advertising and marketing spending, according to an ANA study. There is a huge gap that needs to be filled.

An analysis by Cannes Lions winners shows how the right musical cue in an ad can give a significant emotional impact on the viewer, making them feel connected with a brand. However, this works both ways. Music used well can generate positive feelings, but a poor musical choice can quickly alienate consumers. Instead of doing due diligence, many brands may opt for a stereotype.

Songs and artists have the gift of reaching a broad audience but can also pinpoint specific groups of people and specific feelings. For example, Maroon 5's "Memories" is a song that anyone can sing along too but also may hold a special meaning for anyone who has lost a loved one. Whereas Solange's" Almeda" and Ruby Ibarra's "Nothing On Us" (featuring Rocky Rivera, Klassy, and Faith Santilla), both celebrating the characteristics and resilience embedded in Black culture and Filipino women, respectively.

Brands and marketers need to hone in on the audience they are trying to reach and tailor their message accordingly. To do so, they need to first understand the traits of those people —beginning with their age to origin country to language preference to geographical location. This will enable brands to focus on specific artists and genres that fit those requirements.

A one-size fits all approach does not in fact fit all. This is a lot of work, but it will help separate the successful campaigns from the failures. By advertising using specific songs, artists, or events, they will be able to reach new audiences across the U.S. and the world.


The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the ANA or imply endorsement from the ANA.


Khee Lee is the CMO of Kiswe.