Q. What should be your strategy for in-language marketing? Is it enough for a consumer to see an ad in their language or do you need to ensure the entire buyer journey experience is in their language?
It’s really important not to confuse in-language with in-culture — because you can communicate in-language and still not connect. Maybe it was just a translation or lacked a real cultural insight. Language isn’t everything. That said, used with purpose, in-language work is powerful. For bilingual/bicultural consumers, the in-language strategy is more about emotional resonance — speaking to the heart. An emotional connection will get people to pay attention. It will break through the clutter in-the-moment and make a lasting impression. When targeting consumers who aren’t as bilingual, those who do rely on a language other than English, it is advisable to carry language through to as many touchpoints as possible. The whole user experience should be thought through in that language and only then can you decide what is a must-have and what is a nice-to-have insofar as bilingualism is concerned.
Q. What do you see as being the most effective trends/strategies/platforms to be utilizing in reaching multicultural markets in the year ahead?
Multicultural consumers are digital leaders and influencers. Supporting multicultural content creators, artistic voices, and innovators will inspire engagement and loyalty. Experiential will continue to be a critical, culturally-rich platform — one that engages consumers in real-time and then allows for continued engagement via 360 initiatives that add scale and reach. Finally, we are seeing the pendulum swing back on Total Market. In other words, marketers are realizing that we need more cultural fluency not less. We have the technology and the talent to care about culture, about discrete groups and sub-groups within those groups. I see a move toward strategies that aren’t afraid to drill down on differences. Difference doesn’t divide us. Disrespect divides us. Our uniqueness inspires unity. The more specific the more universal. I see smart marketers deepening their ability to develop culturally specific strategies and execute across platforms that are really relevant to multicultural consumers in all of their intersectional dimensions.
Insight into Lexus and Marvel’s Black Panther Collaboration
Q. When did the concept click for you? What was that “aha” moment?
I was with a Lexus engineer who was explaining the LC — the innovations in technology and design — and he was explaining how the LC was “born this way.” It wasn’t a derivative of another model. Unlike most vehicles, there was no pre-existing platform for the LC. And I kept thinking about that phrase: “born this way.” It was compelling and it triggered a seemingly unrelated thought. That’s the beauty of innovation — things collide and a new creative path appears. It triggered a thought about Black Panther — unlike many Marvel superheroes, Black Panther was born into the role. That was the initial spark that connected Black Panther and the LC in my mind. Audi had turned down the film (they had the first right of refusal) and that opened up an opportunity for Lexus. The strategic alignment was evident in that “aha” moment — and that was the very beginning of the many parallels between the film and Lexus. Remember, this was several years before the film was made — there was no script — so a lot of instinct was involved.
Q. What was your biggest challenge in bringing this idea/strategy to life?
The original partnership between Black Panther and Lexus was for the LC. The bigger challenge came when the Super Bowl campaign was being developed. That was for the LS and it wasn’t immediately clear to all the stakeholders that Black Panther was the way to go for this model. The LC benefited from the fashion-forward, influencer cred of Black excellence — the strategic fit was indisputable. But again, remembering that the film had not yet released — in fact, it wasn’t even filmed yet — there were a lot of unknowns, particularly about the extent of its wide audience appeal and, therefore, its relevance to a broader LS audience. The biggest challenge was to bring this initiative to its full potential before there was even a script by getting everyone to envision how deeply cultural and universal this film could be. But we did it and everyone involved — Marvel, client, agency, and consumer of course — are glad we did.
Q. If given the chance to do it all over again, is there anything you would do differently?
Honestly, there’s not anything that I can point to — this whole experience unfolded, in a way, like an onion — each layer of discovery led to another discovery and another. It just kept revealing new possibilities and we kept taking the paths as they appeared. That said, I know there were many more layers and paths that we couldn’t take because there’s only so much time — and we were going 24/7 already.
Q. What was the biggest take away/key learning for you and your team in this experience?
It’s more of a takeaway or learning for the industry and, frankly, for the world: Do not marginalize Black stories and cultural experiences. Do not fall into the trap of thinking that if a story is not “yours,” it is not important to people or people won’t want to hear it. Ask yourself how much money you’re walking away from because of unconscious bias and a lack of true cultural insight. I can tell you — a lot.
Enter the ANA 2019 Multicultural Excellence Awards for the chance to be recognized for your outstanding multicultural work.
The following is republished with the permission of the Association of National Advertisers. Find this and similar articles on ANA Newsstand.
By Denise McDevitt