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Targeting a multicultural audience takes more than a dictionary: it takes tact, understanding, and relevance.

Targeting a multicultural audience takes more than a dictionary: it takes tact, understanding, and relevance.

Consumers don't all speak the same language. The term "multicultural marketing" will one day disappear as programs targeting different sections of the population become PR as usual, instead of merely a trend. For some companies that is happening right now, especially in the Hispanic marketing space. In fact, it seems you only need to mention multicultural marketing, and the discussion immediately turns to Hispanics. Recent US Census data only reinforced the belief that this minority is taking up the majority of diversity marketing brainpower. The numbers tell a compelling story: according to the US Census Bureau, the Hispanic population in the US grew faster than the population as a whole. But, as Deborah Charnes Vallejo, MD of Bromley/MS&L points out, that statistic is frequently cited incorrectly. The firm is part of Pangea Partners, a partnership of marketing communications agencies, and part of Publicis Groupe. As Vallejo points out, the Hispanic population is not the fastest-growing in the US; the Asian community, which is growing at a rate of 9%, eclipses the Latino market. Nevertheless, Hispanics are reported to be the largest minority community, at 38.8 million as of July 2003. But PR and marketing to minority populations obviously did not begin with the latest data. African Americans have long been the object of sophisticated and targeted programs. "When I first entered Hispanic PR, I saw a lot of what we were doing was following the African-American marketing programs," Vallejo says. Some PR pros caution companies to not sacrifice one target group for another in the race to win consumer dollars. "The problem is that some African-American programs are now taking a backseat," asserts Kim Hunter, CEO of LaGrant Communications, a firm specializing in ethnic marketing. "We are getting more calls for Hispanic marketing than African-American marketing." That's not an issue for Hunter's client Federated Department Stores, where divisions have programs specific to their local markets, reaching out to a range of ethnic groups depending on the needs of those communities. "It's something we've been doing for 15 to 20 years," says Carol Sanger, VP for corporate communications and external affairs. Still, much of the buzz related to diversity PR strategies focuses squarely on Hispanics. Many of the programs involve cause-related marketing, particularly related to health issues, education, and culture. Sophisticated PR teams know they need to find meaningful ways to reach out. Michelle Holland, Unilever's director of PR for home and personal-care brands, explains that the company recently launched its first multibrand PR collaboration targeting the Hispanic market, including such products as Pond's, Dove, Suave, and Caress. "We've done multibrand programs before, but this is the first one to target the Hispanic consumer," Holland says. The "Secretors de belleza," or "beauty secrets" campaign, honors Latina women who serve their communities in a variety of ways. Research into what messages are truly meaningful to Hispanic women is what drove the concept. "It's not a question of just translating something into Spanish," Holland says. Another campaign that reaches beyond product work comes from Burger King and its agency Bromley/MS&L. Having been active in local markets for many years, its first national Hispanic marketing program launched this year celebrated the rich history of Latino culture in America. The company created an educational program for schools that traces the influence of Latino music. Burger King is also sponsoring the Latin Grammy Awards, and an "Empowering Latinas" tour by Catalina magazine during Hispanic Heritage Month. Other companies are also finding ways to reach this important market. AstraZeneca Migraines may not be life-threatening, but they can have a detrimental impact on quality of life. AstraZeneca, touting its migraine product Zomig, wanted to reach out to the Hispanic community in order to tap a new market in a flat category, and because of a lack of migraine education materials tailored to Latinos. Working with Burson-Marsteller, the company created a Spanish-language VNR, two websites, and a phone help line to field questions. Given the cultural nuances of Hispanic health attitudes, particularly where men are concerned, the program demanded a clear understanding of the messages that would influence behavior. "We're at the point of understanding the different market segments out there, and are trying to fulfill an unmet need," says Luis Silva, AstraZeneca's senior brand manager. The campaign is still in full swing, and so far Spanish-language stations like Telemundo have picked up the VNR. General Motors Andrea Clark, general director of diversity communication for GM, says that in all of its campaigns, whether targeting ethnic populations or not, "product is always front and center." But GM's latest initiative has more to do with making a real commitment to the Hispanic community than just getting them into its cars. GM recently announced a $2.5 million contribution to the National Council of La Raza's (NCLA) "Empowering an American Community" campaign. The NCLA is the nation's largest national Hispanic civil-rights organization, dedicated to reducing poverty and discrimination. The money will be put toward the purchase of a building in Washington, DC that will serve as the organization's headquarters. "This will make that a destination for anyone dedicated to Hispanic studies," Clark says. The donation was announced during the National Association of Hispanic Journalists conference. GM recently hired C/I Hispana as its Hispanic PR AOR, part of Latin Vox Communications. Clark says that multicultural programs are developed in concert with general marketing efforts, as part of its "one company" approach. AT&T Wireless GoPhone was launched earlier this year, and AT&T Wireless recognized an opportunity to target the Hispanic community. "Many Hispanic consumers are new immigrants to the US who lack the credit history necessary to get other types of phones," explains Rosa Alonso, AT&T Wireless' senior director of international and multicultural marketing. "It is also a great product for multicultural youth." The company worked with Edelman to conduct a Harris Interactive survey examining the attitudes of Hispanic consumers who do not currently own a mobile phone. The results helped the team create a Spanish-language SMT and RNR. Reaching out to Hispanic media resulted in a live interview on talk show Despierta America, and an article New York paper El Diario La Prensa. Among the key selling points are the payment plans which allow charges to be made regularly to a credit card or bank account as an added convenience. The devil is in such details, Alonso says. "In wireless, it's a huge multicultural marketplace, so it's critical that you identify the audience with the product features" she says. "Multicultural programs aren't just a template, and different industries have different synergies." PacifiCare Last year, this health-insurance provider named Russell Bennett its first VP of Latino health solutions. "Senior management began to realize that we have a larger and larger Latino membership," he says. One of PacifiCare's early initiatives was to set up a dedicated Spanish-language phone line for members. PacifiCare has also launched a Latino Health Scholars program, designed to encourage young people to enter areas of the medical profession that require between one and three years' training. With the ranks of Spanish-speaking doctors low, "these young people can be an important bridge between English-speaking doctors and Spanish-speaking patients," Bennett explains. The company, which retains Golin/Harris International, also sponsors the Newman/Haas racing team, and has enlisted driver Bruno Junqueira to communicate the importance of safe driving. Employee communications also plays an important role, as some 1,400 PacifiCare staffers are Hispanic. The efforts are all part of a larger corporate strategy. Says Bennett, "To develop a strong, sustainable, profitable business, with a loyal and expanding client base within the Latino community, PacifiCare needs to transform itself." Procter & Gamble P&G wanted to find a way to make an emotional connection with Hispanic women in order to raise awareness about a serious health issue, and at the same time highlight its health, beauty, and laundry products. Recognizing that there is a chasm between the general and Hispanic markets regarding breast cancer, the company identified Latin pop singer - and breast-cancer survivor - Soraya as a key influencer. "She made it relevant and emotionally impactful," explains Minal Cordero, multicultural marketing manager. The team, which included multidisciplinary marketing agency PowerPact, created an "Awareness is love" kit, including facts and myths about breast cancer. Soraya recorded a Spanish-language song about surviving breast cancer that was released on a CD in the kit. P&G also worked with local hospitals to offer free mammograms, and held awareness programs at retail outlets. So far, the program has generated a lot of media coverage in the target markets, and P&G increased its budget for the program as the concept took hold.

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