Firms looking for diverse teams to avoid blunders
Weekend, October 27-29, 2017 Companies try to reach new generation of customers Business
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 droga5 team behind the recent Covergirl campaign, creative directors ray smiling, left, and shannon washington, seated at centre, along with team members.