Ad Agencies Pursue “New” General Market
OgilvyCulture, which had a “soft launch” in November gets an official send-off today with a daylong conference, titled “Preparing for the New General Market,” at the Ogilvy & Mather world headquarters on the West Side of Manhattan.
“Instead of thinking of discrete segments in a multicultural world,” he said, “we’re saying the new reality is that it’s more of a cross-cultural world, a mash-up of cultures.” John Seifert, Chairman & CEO, Ogilvy & Mather North America
The intent is to aim across demographic groups and appeal to consumer similarities rather than differences. This is in contrast to traditional "multicultural marketing" which is directed at specific demographic groups including Hispanics, African-Americans, Asian-Americans, women or gay and lesbian consumers.
Seifert continues “Instead of thinking of discrete segments in a multicultural world,” he said, “we’re saying the new reality is that it’s more of a cross-cultural world, a mash-up of cultures.”
But will this approach work in reaching and moving the diverse consumer segments? Traditional "multicultural marketing" has been a failure for many of the global agencies. The Madison Avenue Project was formed by the NAACP and Mehri & Skalet, PLLC to reverse the widespread, entrenched discrimination against African American professionals employed in the advertising industry.
Howard Buford, is president and chief executive at Prime Access in New York, an agency devoted to marketing to three demographic groups: Hispanic, African-American and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (L.G.B.T.) consumers. His perspective echoes the frustration of many marketers with specific expertise who have been attempting to grow their business and reach. Says Buford, "“It’s multicultural consumers who are making ‘the new general market,’ why not go to an agency with a long track record of multicultural advertising to do general campaigns?”
Christine Whitehawk, communication manager for the Ikea North America unit said, “This to us is the beauty of OgilvyCulture. Although we want to ensure that different audiences are engaging with the brand, we don’t want a bunch of different messages." Jeffrey Bowman, who heads OgilvyCulture as its practice lead states “As a practice, its success is dependent on a core group of people making connections internally and externally.” He adds “We’re feeling our way; I’ve said to everyone this is going to be messy for a while.”
What say you? Have we reached a "new general market" or is America still a "cross-section of cultures and ethnic segments"?