Category Archives: Multi Cultural Targeting

Silicone Valley Diversity Challenge

There is an old axiom that says “The more things change the more they remain the same.”  In this day and age of technology and the rich pools of diverse talent at our disposal, it’s hard to imagine that we continue to struggle with diversity issues.  The following article sheds light on the issue and offers a remedy.

Silicon Valley wants to send rockets to the moon, but can’t even figure out diversity

Published on March 13, 2017, Featured in: Editor’s Picks, Entrepreneurship, Technology
Caroline Fairchild, New Economy Editor at LinkedIn

Two years ago when I interviewed Tristan Walker, he shared a simple message: Companies are “doomed if they don’t start changing” and taking diversity seriously.

The founder of Walker & Company Brands — a health and beauty startup catering to people of color – Walker has in many ways become an iconic symbol for Black male founders. A graduate from Stanford Business School who was named a USA Today Person of the Year, Walker gets the kind of media attention that most founders would dream of. He was an Entrepreneur-in-Resident at Andreessen Horowitz before launching his own startup now with more than $30 million in funding and his popular Bevel razors are now sold widely at places like Target.

Despite all the perceived success, Walker is less than optimistic about where the technology industry is headed. Just last week at The New York Times’ New Work Summit, I caught up with him again and asked him how much from a diversity perspective has really changed. His answer? Not much.

“It’s the same as two years ago. Maybe this is a contrarian view, maybe it’s not, but I don’t think anything has changed,” he said. “It is going to require more folks than I to change this thing. But if they don’t want to change it, that’s their problem. We want the best people with the most diverse ideas and if you are unwilling to hire or fund those folks, it is your loss.”

In the wake of Uber’s internal investigation into its company culture, Walker and I talked about the importance of building diverse and “courageous” teams, running a startup as a Black founder and the progress he feels the industry must make in the next 10 to 20 years to stay competitive.

Edited excerpts:

CF: It’s challenging recruiting diverse talent in tech right now. How have you created a culture at Walker & Company that has allowed you to do that?

TW: Walker & Company is 25 employees now. We have the right talent come work for us. We are majority minority and have reached parity on gender. Most of my senior leadership members are women of color. Most of them also come from the East Coast, which means people self select into this. Walker & Company didn’t mean anything three years ago. We only find our meaning through our values and that carries the brand into what it will become. But the fact that we have such a diverse group of folks come work for us lets me know that we have done something right.

CF: Uber is dealing with what can be described as a company culture crisis right now. How would you advise tech companies to be more inclusive?

TW: I’ve been thinking a lot about the whole idea around diversity committees at all these things at companies. They are in every single industry. Whether it is tech, finance or insurance, companies have these diversity committees. That just shows that there is no way that it will be a default state. It will always be some project and it shouldn’t be. At Walker & Brands, we made it our default state. Now the only thing we have to worry about is almost becoming too diverse, which doesn’t make any sense. So my advice to them would be to think about what it would take to make diversity your default state. Maybe that will take 10 to 15 years, but you have to have a plan and that plan is different than how you fix things in the next nine months to get people off our backs.

CF: Are you surprised that this is still an issue among tech companies?

TW: There is no shortage of research that shows that diversity leads to better outcomes, so why aren’t people taking this more seriously? I don’t understand the logic. We are sending rockets to the moon in 18 months, why can’t we figure this out? And actually, we do ourselves a disservice by saying we need to “figure out” diversity because, it just is. And if it isn’t there at your company, it will be, because America is changing very quickly.

CF: You are a Black founder creating products that predominately serve people of color. How does that impact your success?

TW: Everyone always talks about us about being a niche Procter & Gamble or a niche Johnson & Johnson. But the majority of the world is people of color. Why do you think that is niche? It’s laziness and an unwillingness to acquire that context. It’s on me now to prove that we are right. That’s entrepreneurship at it’s most pure, which I can appreciate. It also makes us focus even more on building a business that is great and can sustain itself. There is a reason we don’t need to hire so many people or spend a lot on marketing. If folks are not going to acquire the context to understand what we are doing, it will just be harder for us to raise money down the road. So we want to create our own destiny rather than just grow for growth’s sake.

CF: Did you set out to become the symbol that you have become for Black male founders?

TW: I had no idea what Silicon Valley was before I came here. I fell into this. Folks think I had some plan. I have been very lucky and I had great timing and great supporters. It wasn’t all that and me is fine. As long as we are serving our customers in the best way that we want to serve them, that is all that I can do, and that creates a virtuous cycle. We get more appreciation for the brand and better recruits and it makes people want to promote us more. It will never be my plan to be an icon of sorts. If anything, I want to create way more of those folks. There is also something to say about people talking about me way too much because it is a crutch. There are plenty of great founders who look like me and deserve that recognition. That is the one thing I want to evangelize.

CF: How do you think about prioritizing your time?

TW: It’s easy. I only care about three things in my life: My faith, my family and my work in that order. I only allocate my time to those three things and anything else is superfluous. My team knows that I come into the office between 8:30 and 9 and I leave between 6:30 and 7 because I have to eat with my son and put him to bed. There is no question about that. I need to practice what I preach. I don’t have email on my phone. What’s fascinating is that if something blows up, someone would call me. No one ever calls me. It shows that it is easier than people make it. You just need to define it. That is something that I planned.


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Is Hispanic Marketing Dying Or Maturing?

by , December 3, 2015, 10:21 AM (A MediaPost Op-Ed)


All industries go through cycles and evolve. Most follow a common trajectory that begins with rapid growth, then slows down, matures and ultimately faces creative destruction (which J. Schumpeter coined the “ultimate fact of capitalism.”) I’ve been thinking about this in relation to the state of the Hispanic marketing industry, as the industry trade association AHAA recently celebrated its 20thanniversary.

Not a Growth Industry Anymore

The state of the Hispanic ad business generates a lot of emotional responses, as seen in my January 2011 article, “2011: The Year of Creative Destruction.” Ask anyone who works in Hispanic marketing for their perspective and you’re likely to get a gloomy response. You’ll hear, “It’s in decline” or “it’s never been harder” or “the future is uncertain.”

Is Hispanic Marketing Dying? 

A number of indicators point that way.

There has been an appreciable decline in the number and size of Hispanic agencies in the last five years. From the closing of former powerhouse agencies like Bromley, to consolidation of shops like Vidal Partnership and MGSCOMM, the Hispanic ad business seems to be heading in the wrong direction. There are very few mid-sized Hispanic agencies left in some of the biggest Hispanic markets in the U.S. like Los Angeles, New York and Chicago. A simple comparison of the 2007 membership roster of AHAA shows 93 member agencies compared to only 48 in 2015.

Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) are another gauge for the vitality of an industry. M&A in the Hispanic ad business has dropped off a cliff since its peak in the early 2000s. All the big agency holding companies have Hispanic shops and do not appear to be in the market for Hispanic agencies. The only Hispanic ad agency to be purchased by a major network in the last 10 years was La Comunidad by SapientNitro in 2014. The valuation multiples I hear for Hispanic agencies are pretty low – probably the best indicator of the bearish outlook on the business. The situation is similar in the Hispanic media business.

A Growing Market?

Yet the Hispanic population continues to grow and is quickly approaching 60 million and 20% of the total U.S. population. Investment in Hispanic marketing has never been higher. Hispanic ad spend continues to post annual increases, with 12% growth in 2014 following almost continuous year-over-year growth since 2003 (Kantar Media). Hispanic consumers are also generally viewed as one of the most attractive consumer segments in the U.S. with their rising socioeconomic status, large and growing families, and increasing consumer spending.

Maybe it’s Maturity

Hispanic marketing has all the markers of a mature industry whether you look at media or ad agencies.

Most of the largest Hispanic advertising accounts are consolidating with a handful of agencies. Of the top 50 Hispanic ad spenders in 2014, 50% of the ad spend is occurring among 27 companies that are working with just seven Hispanic ad agencies. Hispanic ad agency revenue in 2014 paints a similar picture: the top 10 Hispanic ad agencies represent 48% of the revenue generated by the top 50 Hispanic ad agencies (as reported by Advertising Age).

On the media side, TV represents 76% of all Hispanic ad spend in 2014. That media spend is concentrated within eight companies, with Univision, NBC Universal and 21st Century Fox dominating.

Looking Ahead

Two macro-trends point to further industry maturation:

  • The growing trend towards a Total Market Approach by marketers
  • The net negative immigration trend among Mexican immigrants

The next five years will likely see more consolidation. Instead of new start-up Hispanic agencies or media companies, we’re likely to see something akin to what happened in the African American marketing business – fewer agencies, fewer media companies and the continued move of multicultural marketing out of the silos.

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Where Does Multicultural Targeting Fit in a Diverse World?

Much is being discussed regarding President Obama’s campaign strategy in winning the election.  According to news reports, Blacks, Latinos, women and the youth vote propelled President Obama back into the White House.  If this rings true, and it does, then it should re-energize the discussions on how important demographic targeting is versus behavorial targeting.  

I thought I would re-post this piece from Ad Age (May 30, 2011).  Robert Groves, U.S. Census Bureau Director states “The delivering of a message about a product or a service is best done when the advertiser understands the lens through which a consumer is viewing both the culture they’re in … and how their own experiences map onto it”.

Race, Ethnicity Important in Reaching Socially Savvy Consumers, but Not as Much as You Might Think

By: Matt Carmichael Published: May 30, 2011

Advertisers on Facebook can single out profiles of married men who love cats, but what they can’t target is Hispanics. Or blacks. Or Asians.

That’s not to say social networks can’t still arrive at certain conclusions.

When Andrew Speyer got engaged, he and his fiancee didn’t change their relationship statuses on Facebook. But after friends started congratulating them with wall posts, ads began popping up offering the services of rabbis that perform interfaith ceremonies. Somehow, Facebook discerned that, unlike him, his fiancee was Jewish, although that wasn’t explicit in her profile.

Mr. Speyer, VP-head of strategy at Wing, a Hispanic marketing agency owned by Grey Advertising, feels his experience isn’t uncommon. Mention a brand in a status update and watch it appear as a page you might “like.” Facebook enables marketers to reach huge population swaths or a segment of fewer than 50 profiles — about 0.000008% of Facebook users. All planners have to do is toggle through a list of demographic and behavioral variables and watch the pie slice get thinner.

But think about this for a moment: An ad platform created by a millennial originally for other millennials — the most diverse U.S. generation ever — accounts for nearly one in three online ad impressions and spans all demographics, but it doesn’t ask for your race or ethnicity on your profile. It therefore can’t explicitly target in this key way. Nor can MySpace, or LinkedIn or Twitter.

While that might suggest race and ethnicity are no longer important when it comes to targeting a young, socially savvy consumer, that’s not exactly true.





Robert Groves

But demographic targeting in general is under renewed assault from several directions. Nielsen and CBS recently partnered on a research project aiming to replace age and gender targeting for TV, claiming higher correlation of purchasing intent using behavioral data.

Meanwhile, JD Power and Associates just released a white paper formalizing an opinion it had held for years: that targeting based on buyer profiles of its 28 vehicle segments was more effective than targeting the demographic profile most likely to buy a certain type of car.

So do demographics still fit into the marketing landscape?

“The delivering of a message about a product or a service is best done when the advertiser understands the lens through which a consumer is viewing both the culture they’re in … and how their own experiences map onto it,” said U.S. Census Bureau Director Robert Groves.

While behavioral targeting can be critical, the more data you have on the consumer, the better picture you can draw. “We tend to want to simplify and specify and people are outstanding at having simultaneous identities,”said Wing’s Mr. Speyer.

In addition, the younger consumers don’t necessarily use the same identity frameworks marketers are used to dealing with. Multiracial children are the fastest-growing youth demographic according to the 2010 Census. “The need to look at demographics might be growing instead of shrinking,” said Kevin Brockenbrough, VP-associate director of account planning at African-American-focused agency Burrell, Chicago. “Unless you look at what’s motivating behavior, I’m not sure you’re taking full advantage of it. And what motivates it might be tied back to demographics.”

So it can be short-sighted to ignore large demographic cohorts. “There’s often a gap between the share of the population and the share held by a brand,” said Gustavo Razzetti, chief strategy and engagement officer at Grupo Gallegos. “If you want to grow your brand, [Hispanics are] the market that is growing.”

But it’s also dangerous to overgeneralize. “Grouping Hispanics together and making statements about them ignores a huge variation on all sorts of attributes,” said Mr. Groves.

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Diversity Matters, MediaPost Publications, July 6, 2012

I came across this interesting piece on marketing to the Millennial segment.  According to this MediaPost blog, Millennials are one of the most ethnically diverse adult population segment.  The article states that “Millennials are more likely than Gen Xers or Baby Boomers to interact with people who have a different ethnic or cultural background than themselves…”

What this is also saying is that Millennials reflect a broader definition of diversity which goes farther than ethnicity and includes gender, sexual orientation, age, religion, political affiliation.  Consequently, they also want to see diversity reflected in the media they consume.

Read more:

An important component of marketing is understanding that it is a social process, and diversity elements are important in any marketing plan addressing population subgroups.  An important fact to consider in branding and marketing strategies.  This article by Sharalyn Hartwell aptly points this out…check it out…


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Multicultural Marketing Is Very Much Alive

It amazes me to see that in 2011 we continue to debate the value of multicultural marketing!  The September 9, 2011 issue of Advertising Age presents a solid discussion on the relevancy of multicultural advertising in today’s marketing environment.  Key points made include the fact that multicultural ad agencies continue to grow, Hispanic advertising is growing faster than all other sectors of advertising, cultural relevance remains the trump card in marketing, language is and will continue to be a factor, cultural pride, empathy and relating to me are still important factors…read for yourself…Multicultural Marketing Is Very Much Alive

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Repost from Life Of A Nappy-Headed Fat Chic

Check out this opinion I am posting on the Nivea advertising campaign controversy from the cool blog


Here is my two cents on the Nivea Controversy, and much has been said on the topic of what many are calling an insensitive Nivea print ad. The campaign (“RE-CIVILIZE YOURSELF”…from Nivea’s Look Like You Give A Damn ad campaign which targets men) shows a clean-cut black male tossing his alter ego uncivilized head aside (literally).

I don’t think this creative execution is racism on the part of Nivea, as some have decried, but I do think it’s a case of falling asleep at the “insensitivity” switch. In my 30 plus years in the ad business, I’ve seen this happen way too many times…and the reasons are as varied as the number of days in a year. All to often companies (and/or their media agents) become complacent to the real world sensitivities…surrounded by people who often times look and think like them…and not the real world people who are buying their products and services…and consequently lose sight of what may/could be offensive and what’s not.

There’s a lesson here. The simple solution is to incorporate diverse creative and media perspectives, through a diverse management and creative team, to give a voice on what can be construed as offensive. Nivea should have at the very least, an African-American ad agency or media consultant to vet creative concepts…perhaps they do. I think its a small price to pay (for advice) compared to all that free negative press…basically this should not happen in this day and age…but the road to insensitive ads is a cluttered one unfortunately…


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Filed under Advertising, African American, Diversity, Marketing, Media, Multi Cultural Targeting, Social Media

Tom Burrell on Marketing and Black ‘Inferiority

In his bookBrainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority“, ad legend Tom Burrell asserts that “one of the greatest propaganda campaigns of all time was the masterful marketing of the myth of black inferiority to justify slavery within a democracy.”   Tom Burrell on Marketing and Black ‘Inferiority’ – Ad Legend Outlines Past Propaganda, Sees Hope for Future Voices By: Rance Crain, Advertising Age, April 18, 2011.

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