Excellence in Marketing to the Asian Community

By Morgan Strawn

The 2022 Multicultural Excellence Awards shined a valuable spotlight on some of the excellent marketing being devoted to Asians, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders (AAPI). Below are some summaries of that trophy-hoisting work, with the full case studies accessible through the embedded hyperlinks.

Procter & Gamble Gives Voice and Name to Asians

Recognizing that one of the ways that Asian Americans can be painfully othered is through the ridicule of traditional Asian names, Procter & Gamble undertook a campaign celebrating those names.

In a film the brand created, an Asian American mother of a newborn daughter explains to the child, Yeong Joo, how she will need to live up to the meaning of her name — "strong and resilient" — to overcome the abuse she might receive because of how her name sounds.

The mother assures Yeong Joo, however, that goodhearted people will not only accept her but reach out to her, with the film modeling some of the ways that that outreach can be made, such as by asking with earnest interest how to correctly pronounce someone's "beautiful" name. The effort was amplified by influencers in the AAPI community and supported by a website designed to combat bias.

How Ford Positioned Its SUV as the Perfect Vehicle for Post-COVID Diwali Reunions

Names are one way of passing on Asian tradition through the generations, but the celebration of important cultural moments are just as significant, with one of the most important of such moments for the South Asian community being the Hindu holiday of Diwali.

Branching out from the traditional Western winter holidays, Ford created a campaign that chimed with this Festival of Lights to promote its Escape SUV to Canadians of Indian descent. The brand crafted a campaign around the story of a young mother visiting her aging father for their first Diwali together since the start of the pandemic. The key piece of creative was a three-minute film that wove an emotional, relatable narrative that showcased over ten vehicle features.

To drive the campaign further, Ford created 15- and 30-second spots. In each piece of creative, there was an emphasis on how Ford vehicles help break the distance barrier between loved ones and bring them closer together.

McDonald's Creates a Hall of Zodiacs in the Metaverse to Engage the AAPI Community

While Diwali is celebrated by millions of Indians and people of Indian descent, another important holiday for many in the Asian community is the Lunar New Year.

McDonald's sought to make Asian Americans feel seen with an innovative celebration of this festival. The activation was executed in the metaverse — a first for the restaurant chain — where the brand created a VR-accessible space in which visitors could celebrate the New Year, explore the meaning of the animal of their birth year, receive horoscope readings, and try on holiday-appropriate digital wearables. 

The effort was supported with non-digital elements that included the release of a TV commercial and exclusive merchandise, such as apparel and traditional New Year red envelopes.

The Saweetie Meal

McDonald's capitalizes not only on cultural moments to appeal to Asian Americans, but on Asian celebrities as well. Recently, to appeal to the Filipino community, it partnered with Filipina American musician Saweetie to create a special "Saweetie meal."

The brand promoted the offering on Kumu, a Filipino live-streaming social media platform, and through branded "My Filipino Mom Tries" video content, which portrayed an influencer's mother emulating Saweetie's fashion and rapping her songs.

Spotlighting Forced Labor in the Fashion Industry

The efforts of marketers don't try to benefit the Asian community simply by selling its members Happy Meals and automobiles; in at least one of those efforts, marketers sought to bring an end to the deplorable conditions suffered by one Asian community at the hands of government oppressors.

It's estimated that one in five of the world's cotton items are produced using forced Uyghur labor in Xinjiang, China. To shed light on the crisis, The Human Rights Foundation coopted an existing marketing campaign. When a highly publicized fashion line announced its first clothing drop using posters that showed nothing more than a blue jacket and a QR code, the organization recognized a tactical opening to put up its own posters and steal attention for its cause.

The Human Rights Foundation's posters mimicked the style of the originals while replacing the blue jacket with a blue prison jumpsuit (the exact same kind worn by Uyghurs in captivity). When fashionistas scrambled to scan the new posters' QR code, they were taken to a landing page where they learned about the problem.

The Human Rights Foundation, however, didn't stop there. It enabled shoppers to install a Google Chrome extension that alerted them whenever they were shopping with an implicated brand, directing them to shop with a clean conscience elsewhere.

The Asian community isn't the only group that the Multicultural Excellence Awards address; they recognize marketing efforts that demonstrate excellence in celebrating and appealing to a wide variety of minorities, including African Americans, Hispanics, LGBTQ persons, and disabled people, to name but a few. To browse the full library of Multicultural Excellence case studies, click here.

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.

Morgan Strawn is a senior manager of editorial and content development at ANA.