Last summer, Publicis Media embarked on a multi-year, industrywide initiative to remove industry barriers to equitable financial opportunity and representation of underserved and ethnically-diverse suppliers, including a $25 million dollar investment into diverse content creation. The move, with industry consortium Once & For All Coalition, aims to help marketers uncover opportunities that more closely mirror their brand values and drive growth with audiences in a multicultural world. In an Advertising Week New York session, “Investing in Inclusive Marketing: A Best Buy Case Study,” attendees heard from three sides of the industry—brand, agency and platform—about their common goal of committing to inclusive marketing and equal representation.
From the agency side, Lisa Torres, president of Cultural Quotient at Publicis Media, joined platform leader Rishi Chadha, global head of creator and gaming, content partnerships at Twitter, and their brand client Dan Murphy, senior manager of media strategy at Best Buy. Each industry player zeroed in on how their respective sectors participate in their shared commitment to diversity through multicultural marketing, investing in BIPOC-owned media, and creating cultural relevance.
On creating more inclusive business practices that extend beyond marketing and advertising
Promises and commitments are where brands and agencies took up residence for a very long time. Especially in 2020, a company’s vision—or absence thereof—towards diversity, equity and inclusion defined what matters most to them and what their intentions are in relation to consumers. From then on, consumers hearkened to companies and brands where they are seen, heard, valued, and represented.
Marketers and advertisers caught on and saw the importance of making sure that the consumers they are trying to cater see people who look like them in ads, products, and campaigns. However, according to Publicis Media, Cultural Quotient President Lisa Torres, there is more to driving diversity than that.
Focus on driving equitable opportunities, creating more diverse content and supporting creators are needed to fix the metrics by which things are measured. “Commitment to diversity cannot be sustainable if you don’t fix the infrastructure that’s actually broken,” Torres said.
“At Publicis, we put our money where our mouth is,” she added. “We have a $25 million Inclusive Investment Fund in which we’re actually building supply. It helps vendors create more content so our clients have more stuff to buy that works for them. Whether it’s a little bit of work or a lot of work, you just got to step in.”
Understanding who they are, including what they need and what’s important to them, also allows brands to make authentic connections with their consumers. Best Buy Senior Manager of Media Strategy Dan Murphy, quoting Best Buy CEO Corie Barry, said, “we believe we can better serve our employees, customers, and communities when we have more diverse voices at the table when we work with different business partners, and when we’re telling different stories.”
Murphy boasted of the progress that Best Buy had made and will continue to make in its commitment to spend $1.2 billion with BIPOC and diverse businesses by 2025. “We’re over 40 percent of the way to our goal.”
Another way the brand is practicing inclusivity is by diversifying the people they have at the table. “60 percent of our most senior leaders at Best Buy, which includes our board of directors, are women or people of color and roughly 40 percent of our employees are people of color,” Murphy said.
Everything needs to be measured.
It is fundamental for any brand that tries to reach consumers from different backgrounds to have unique yet relatable content and to put it out in a way that amplifies not only the product but also the creators who have authentic experiences of their diversity. “We’re seeing that consumers are sticking around and viewing that content and making an impact,” Murphy said. “If we have great creative, great strategy, great media, great targeting, and pair that up with great content, we now have a blueprint for how we can do that within the BIPOC in the diverse media space as well as other spaces.”
Getting the bias out of the content they put out should be on every brand’s list of priorities. The way to do that, according to Torres, is by focusing on measurement. “There’s a ton of bias out there and we need to fix the entire measurement systems because measurement is legacy. Data helps us but it also hurts us.”
“We look at measurement,” Murphy said in agreement, ”both in terms of performance and how we are measuring against our goals to ensure that we’re on track with where we need to go.”
Increasing investment in BIPOC media: how to make it easier?
An authentic partnership approach among brands, clients, and vendors can change the ecosystem for the next generation of consumers. “To fix the infrastructure as an agency,” Torres said, “we need these three to be at the table working together on the same page to have that cohesive and collective dialogue.”
For Murphy, the key is to take that first step and never cease trying. “You’re not going to have a sense of what works or what doesn’t or what impact you can make in these spaces until you try,” he said. “Rather than doing analysis by paralysis, just try, learn and then continue to iterate from there.”
Acknowledging that the diverse wave of consumers is here to stay will allow brands to keep their businesses afloat. Torres explained that modern-day consumers are not the same audience that marketers are used to talking to and that brands need to figure out a new way of approaching the market, which is all test-and-learn.
“This generation of consumers that’s coming—the age of BIPOC consumers—is going to drive your business from this day forward; it is like no other you’ve ever seen,” Torres elaborated further.
“And if we don’t start having those dialogues,” she added, “we’re going to continue to see aenemic growth. You’re not going to see the extent of where you can go, and these consumers will go someplace else.”
Marketing at a multicultural level requires true and authentic connection with the consumers and learning about what content resonates with them. It’s about mastering the art of finding the common thread between diverse consumers’ unique lived experiences and the brand’s purpose.