Firms look­ing for di­verse teams to avoid blun­ders

Week­end, October 27-29, 2017 Com­pa­nies try to reach new gen­er­a­tion of cus­tomers Busi­ness

Metro Canada (Calgary) - - YOUR ESSENTIAL DAILY NEWS - The AS­SO­ci­ATed PreSS

CoverGirl ex­ec­u­tive Ukonwa Ojo was struck when the team from an ad agency en­tered the room to pitch ideas for re­vamp­ing the cos­metic com­pany’s image. For the first time in Ojo’s more than 20-year ca­reer in busi­ness, she found her­self work­ing with an AfricanAmer­i­can cre­ative direc­tor.

That meet­ing would ul­ti­mately re­sult in a mar­ket­ing cam­paign that chal­lenges con­ven­tional ideas about beauty. It fea­tures celebrity women from a spec­trum of races, ages and pro­fes­sions, in­clud­ing Issa Rae of HBO’s In­se­cure, mo­tor­cy­cle racer She­lina Moreda, celebrity chef Aye­sha Curry and di­eti­tian Maye Musk, 69.

Di­ver­sity in the ad­ver­tis­ing in­dus­try is be­com­ing a higher pri­or­ity for con­sumer prod­uct com­pa­nies as they try to reach a new gen­er­a­tion of cus­tomers with evolv­ing sen­si­bil­i­ties on eth­nic­ity, age, gen­der and sex­u­al­ity.

Many com­pa­nies have come to be­lieve that hav­ing peo­ple with a va­ri­ety of back­grounds in the room can not only pro- duce a smarter mar­ket­ing cam­paign but also help avoid the kind of blun­ders Kel­logg and Dove were re­cently ac­cused of in to­day’s po­lit­i­cally com­bustible en­vi­ron­ment.

De­spite ef­forts by Madi­son Av­enue to ramp up re­cruit­ing of mi­nori­ties, just 7 per cent of the 67,000 peo­ple work­ing as ad­ver­tis­ing and pro­mo­tion man­agers in the U.S. in 2016 were African-Amer­i­can, less than 5 per cent were His­panic, and about 1 per cent were of Asian de­scent, ac­cord­ing to the U.S. La­bor Depart­ment. Women ac­counted for about 56 per cent of man­agers in the in­dus­try.

In the case of CoverGirl’s makeover, which re­placed the com­pany’s fa­mil­iar “Easy, Breezy, Beau­ti­ful” tagline with “I Am What I Makeup,” the team from the ad agency Droga5 had two black cre­ative di­rec­tors, Shan­non Wash­ing­ton and Ray Smil­ing.

“The team that worked on this idea and this cam­paign came from very dif­fer­ent back­grounds — from a male and fe­male point of view, dif­fer­ent races, dif­fer­ent ages,” Droga5 CEO Sarah Thomp­son said. “I think that more than be­fore, what’s im­por­tant is get­ting that nar­ra­tive, that story, right and re­ally pres­sure-test­ing. Is it au­then­tic? Is there any­thing that is go­ing to be mis­in­ter­preted?”

On Wed­nes­day, Kel­logg apol­o­gized af­ter the art­work on its Corn Pops ce­real boxes was at­tacked as racist. Dove was sim­i­larly crit­i­cized ear­lier this month over a com­mer­cial for a body wash.

The As­so­ci­ATed Press

the droga5 team be­hind the re­cent Covergirl cam­paign, cre­ative di­rec­tors ray smil­ing, left, and shan­non wash­ing­ton, seated at cen­tre, along with team mem­bers.

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