The new face of marketing

Multicultural outreach isn't new, but the tools being employed are changing with the times. PRWeek's staff looks at five brands that epitomize diversity in tactics.

Multicultural outreach isn't new, but the tools being employed are changing with the times. PRWeek's staff looks at five brands that epitomize diversity in tactics

Continuously revving up its Hispanic outreach

Harley-Davidson has achieved significant success with the rapidly growing Hispanic demographic through comprehensive and credible outreach.

Its broadly focused efforts for reaching this audience do not target a single demographic, but instead aim to reach most Hispanics over 18 years old, both current motorcycle riders and non-riders alike.

“We are the top-selling motorcycle to Hispanics,” says Paul James, director of product communications. “It's a growing market share, one that is important to us.”

Harley-Davidson's focus on diverse marketing ramped up in 2003 when it hired Lagrant Communications to expand outreach efforts.

“We felt we didn't do enough to reach out to the Hispanic and African-American markets,” adds James. “It was time.”

Benefits of a strong relationship
Harley-Davidson's efforts are bolstered by its strong relationship with the Latin American Motorcycle Association, one of the largest Latino motorcycle clubs. Many Harley riders are members, so the company frequently attends its events in order to gain perspective on the industry and market.

“It's fantastic to work with them closely to be able to understand what the Hispanic experience is like on a Harley,” James says.

In addition to the club's events, Harley- Davidson employs myriad other methods for conducting market research and maintaining and expanding its customer base. It regularly has a presence at events and festivals such as the Lowrider Tour and Mexican Fiesta in Milwaukee in order to spend time interacting with “Hispanic riders and non-riders alike to ensure our marketing is authentic,” James points out.

Social media also plays a key role in outreach. In addition to Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking sites, in 2009 the company created a special section of its website ( to celebrate the dedication and pride of Latin-American Harley riders. The site provides information on the company, consumer photos and stories, and contests.

Pursuing non-riders
Acknowledging that Harley-Davidson leads market share and already has a strong following of riders, James says the company has mainly moved beyond trying to grab market share from competitors. Instead, it now focuses on ways to reach Hispanics who do not yet own or ride motorcycles.

To that end, the company recently commissioned the documentary film Harlistas: An American Journey in an effort to reach potential new customers by shining a light on the rich, cultural roots of Latino Harley riders. The film was set to debut on May 27 on Telemundo's mun2, the fastest-growing bilingual cable network in the US among young Latin Americans.

“Non-motorcyclists will see this movie and be inspired by it,” James says. “It will give them a different way to think about Harley-Davidson and being a Harlista.”

Estée Lauder
Promise of beauty includes every woman

From a product standpoint, the Estée Lauder brand has a history of targeted multicultural marketing in the US and abroad. But in an attempt to penetrate what is now a more diverse consumer, the business has opted for “inclusion” as the theme of a long-term global brand campaign.

The “Every woman can be beautiful” effort coincides with the launch of the Idealist Even Skintone Illuminator – a product line formulated for various skin tones and ethnicities. It's the brand's most multicultural product to date, says Charisse Ford, SVP of global marketing for Estée Lauder.

A model of diversity
An ad campaign featuring models Joan Smalls from Puerto Rico, Constance Jablonski from France, and Liu Wen from China is slated to debut this month with support from online and PR components. The effort kicked off in March, at an event where Ford presented statistics on demographics – specifically Hispanic females in the US – that impact skincare companies.

“This is really the first time we've had such a globally diverse group of women,” says Ford. “We had targeted multicultural groups separately with product, but never from the standpoint of the brand face. It's about modernizing the brand expression.”

It's an overarching message that plays to the three-model strategy ensuring cohesiveness, while the brand segments ethnicities for more targeted outreach. The team did not want to ignore individual groups' unique skincare concerns when promoting the products, explains Ford.

“We learned that diverse groups of women have different concerns for hyper-pigmentation,” she adds. “It made sense that the product and brand campaigns would happen at the same time.”

For the products, the company differentiates the content and promotional platforms based on key multicultural groups – Hispanic, African American, Asian, and Caucasian. For example, in the US and China, a market where Estée Lauder claims to be the number-one skincare brand, Asian consumers are more concerned with redness, while African Americans tend to be more concerned with acne spots, explains Ford. The company touches upon those concerns with original messaging and targeted ads and outreach featuring the individual models from the inclusive campaign.

While the global team is executing the inclusive campaign in most key markets, it provides marketing teams with a template that includes the more targeted materials, as well as the main creative. Teams have the freedom to execute the strategy as appropriate in local markets, via promotional platforms that may vary per cultural group. For example, in the Asian market, the team might be more likely to spend heavily on mobile than in a market where people are more used to engaging with brands on their desktops. In less key markets, the teams might choose to use the segmented creative more often than the inclusive creative, she notes.

Getting the product to consumers
Meanwhile, the brand promoted the overarching campaign and products through a pre-launch global influencer effort, issuing 6 million-plus product samples. The team hoped to reach 10,000 people in the US and replicate the effort globally. Online, the brand created a mobile ad, microsite, and product videos, and it's speaking to consumers on Facebook and Twitter.

“We're looking at creative ways to sample in that social space,” says Ford. “It's about getting product in consumers' hands.”

With the launch of the three-model ad this month, the brand also expects to unveil a separate visual campaign, “Icon Images,” featuring the Estée Lauder models dressed in white. It was created exclusively for counter and online promotion and mirrors the style of the ads from Lauder's time.

“It's the first you'll see of this global brand position,” says Ford. “It's just the beginning.”

National Geographic Channel
Entertaining its audience

With the ever-increasing size of the US Hispanic market accounting for more than 16% of the country's overall population, it's no surprise that Fox International Channels and Fox Global Networks are ramping up their focus on the Latino mindset. This year, they formed a new entertainment unit, Fox Hispanic Media, and along with it, a third Spanish-language television network.

Next month, National Geographic Networks and Fox Network will roll out Nat Geo Mundo, a nonfiction entertainment network for US Hispanics. Although Spanish versions of the National Geographic Channel have been available in other countries, this will be the first in the US. It is expected to air in more than 4 million homes via AT&T U-verse TV, Cox, Dish Network, and Verizon FiOS.

A full-court press is underway leading up to Nat Geo Mundo's July 1 debut. An initial PR campaign rolled out in April with the unveiling of News Corp's Fox Hispanic Media, a new cable unit to house the upcoming channel, as well as existing Spanish-language networks Fox Deportes (sports) and Utilisima (women's lifestyle).

“From a PR standpoint, the campaign up to now has primarily been targeted to business constituencies, which include the cable operators and ad sales community,” says Russell Howard, SVP of communications worldwide for National Geographic Networks. “The first step was announcing the creation of Fox Hispanic Media and then the intention to launch Nat Geo Mundo. That came out pretty broadly. We had coverage in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. We had quite a bit of attention paid to that, both in terms of print and online publications, and wire services.”

The work is being handled between National Geographic Networks, Fox's Los Angeles-based corporate communications, and The Jeffrey Group. PR budget could not be disclosed due to corporate policy.

Timed to Nat Geo Mundo's launch, Howard says, expanded outreach is being pared down and tailored specifically for Hispanic-language media outlets, both consumer and b-to-b, in Miami, Los Angeles, and New York, with additional regional clusters to follow. A Spanish-language website will also launch to support the network, as well as tie-ins with Facebook and Twitter.

Speaking the right language
“The Hispanic community's growth is very important to us,” says Howard. “In terms of media, from what I understand, one out of eight Americans reads Hispanic publications. If you're looking at that sort of power, media spending in Spanish-language TV rose by 10% in 2010.”

The Cablevision Advertising Bureau recently reported that 20% to 25% of viewing in key Hispanic demographics are shifting toward Spanish cable. In addition, 85% of Hispanic households have cable or satellite, while one in three Hispanic homes have at least four television sets.

Nat Geo Mundo, centered on a 25- to 54-year-old age demographic, will feature original programming on nature, science, culture, and history, adds Howard.

Programming will be a combination of shows from the National Geographic Channel in Latin America, as well as newly commissioned and acquired series and specials, including Phenomenal and Animals Amongst Us. There will also be Hispanic translations of popular series and specials, such as Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan, Mega Estructures, and In the Womb.

“The programming is meant to be relevant to the community, some of it because it's generated out of the Latin-American markets and that represents a sort of bridge to the home countries of many of these viewers,” explains Howard. “National Geographic as a brand is relevant to anyone who aspires to learn more about their world. We're satisfying that need to a constituency that is in many cases bilingual. We're offering content that may not be available to them in English.”

Sears Kmart
Star power bolsters social media initiatives

Multicultural outreach has long been a priority for Sears Holdings, which owns Sears and Kmart. Both brands regularly engage Hispanic and African-American customers through a variety of channels.

“When we approach multicultural segments, regardless if it's Sears or Kmart, we lead with cultural insights and interests of the audiences,” says PR director Shannelle Armstrong. “We listen to what they want – be it from a product or message perspective.”

Armstrong, who joined Sears Holdings in October 2008 from McDonald's, is responsible for multicultural public relations for Sears and Kmart, as well as general market outreach for Kmart. She says ongoing, long-term commitment to multicultural outreach by corporate leaders is essential to success.

“We clearly know the value, and we put people in place that really can help us identify opportunities,” she explains. “If you don't have internal commitment, it's very difficult to continue engaging in conversations with customers.”

Armstrong adds that internal integration also helps ensure successful programs.

“PR sits at the table from inception,” she says. “We're able to influence marketing, online, creative – all of the aspects that touch customers.”

To effectively reach multicultural audiences, Armstrong stresses the importance of providing relevant products and services. She also notes that really listening to channels in which multicultural audiences communicate provides valuable insight into what they think about products and brands and how they like to receive messages.

A specific target
While Armstrong's team communicates with multicultural audiences across all channels, she notes specific audiences often prefer specific channels. For example, because African-American and Hispanic customers have a high propensity for using mobile channels, Sears2go and Kmart2go mobile apps were launched in April 2009 and January 2010, respectively, to help them shop.

In its inaugural effort to specifically engage Latinas on Facebook, Kmart launched “Latina Smart” on April 27. Sponsorship of People en Español's “50 Most Beautiful” edition in late April helped kick it off. Outreach will continue through the end of the year. Elements include partnerships with five Latina bloggers who will share content intended to empower Latinas, such as personal and business success stories.

Engagement will also be focused around product lines designed by high-profile Latinas – clothing collections by Disney star Selena Gomez and Sofia Vergara of Modern Family and the Casa Cristina home collection designed by Hispanic journalist and talk-show host Cristina Saralegui. All three women will engage the audience through videos, Facebook chats, and Twitter parties. The team also plans an education element tied to Hispanic Heritage Month this fall.

A campaign aimed at inspiring young African-American men to become role models was launched in May with Kmart's Protégé brand of sports shoes and apparel. Brand ambassadors Roger Mason of the New York Knicks and Deion Branch of the New England Patriots will use their own Facebook and Twitter pages, as well as and the Protégé MVP Facebook page, to encourage young men.

Comedian and author Steve Harvey, who is a media partner for Sears Holdings, will host weekend mentoring events with Mason, Branch, and other African-American role models in five cities starting June 17. About 100 young men will attend each event.

Harvey also helped drive Kmart's fourth annual “Share the Word” campaign in celebration of Black History Month last February. It featured events with nonprofits, including Dress for Success, a global organization that provides professional clothes, a support network, and career development tools for disadvantaged women.

“Never underestimate the power of radio and partnering with nonprofits,” Armstrong explains. “Radio and nonprofit partnerships are critical for both audiences because they are gathering communities. Partnering with trusted nonprofits and actively participating in the community gives you an opportunity to get inside their vehicles and speak to their constituents, who are also your customers.”

Reaching consumers on the deepest levels

When McDonald's talks about engaging with the ethnic consumer, those efforts go far deeper than marketing and advertising initiatives to generate a purchase occasion. The fast-food behemoth extends the multicultural mindset throughout its organization in franchise ownership, employment and training, and community outreach.

The chain's marketing and advertising strategies incorporate “targeted inclusion,” according to Robert Jackson, US marketing director for McDonald's.

“We know we need to be speaking to everyone in a broader voice and within those basic messages we should provide a motivating foundation for interest and purchase of a particular product,” he says. “But we also then take the opportunity to engage high-opportunity segments such as African Americans, Hispanics, moms, and kids with more directed messages that involve our specific campaign.”

The company used that strategy for its McRib sandwich, sending out a general market message first, then a dedicated marketing message targeting African Americans.

Emotional connections
And while marketing and advertising to trigger a product purchase are key, the messages that promote the McDonald's brand and create the emotional connection with consumers are equally important.

“Part of that is derived from the brand- trust strategies we employ,” notes Jackson. “We are deeply rooted in the African-American community 365 days a year. To that end, we developed specific messages and activations that cement this relationship with the African-American consumer.”

As an example, he highlights a particular campaign currently running called “Big Day.” The spot depicts an African-American wedding incorporating the tradition of jumping the broom. A young ring bearer is rewarded for his due diligence during the ceremony with a Happy Meal.

“We understand this iconography is very important and relevant to African Americans,” explains Jackson. “We're showing our ability to connect to what is important to the consumer from an emotional standpoint.”

McDonald's supports and directs messages through African-American owned and African-American targeted media, as well as broad-based programming. Expanding efforts into social media will be a priority going forward.

“One thing where African Americans are leading is social media, so we are incorporating more social and Web-based marketing into our media mix to make sure we are reaching the consumer in the most relevant environments,” says Jackson.

Insights into the ethnic audience have shaped choices for the McDonald's consumer overall. In an effort to increase consumption of espresso-based beverages, the chain created a sweeter caramel mocha product for the African-American consumer that was ultimately a hit across a number of consumer demographics. It was soon added as a permanent part of the menu.

“Part of our internal dialogue is leading with ethnic insight because in many cases ethnic consumers are bellwethers to a trend that ultimately winds up in the broader market,” notes Jackson. “Keeping our finger on the pulse of where ethnic consumers are actually gives us a strategic advantage, not only from a communication standpoint, but product development as well.”

Practicing what it preaches
But as effective as these marketing and ad campaigns are, what makes McDonald's so successful is the multicultural outreach that happens across the organization 365 days a year. It's not just a company reaching out to ethnic consumers; it's a corporation that practices ethnic diversity. More than 45% of McDonald's franchise operators are women and people of color, including African Americans, Asians, and Hispanics.

Philanthropy is another touch point for the chain. McDonald's sponsors the 365Black Awards that honor prominent African Americans who are making a difference in their communities and are held in conjunction with the Essence Music Festival. A host of educational support includes working with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund and the United Negro College Fund, among others.

“A standing tenet of McDonald's founder Ray Kroc is we have to give back to the communities we serve,” says Jackson. “That premise runs throughout the organization.”

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