Innovator Insights: 4 Key Multicultural Marketing Insights From PepsiCo, Cadillac, Unilever & McCormick

October 14, 2020

Many marketers have put in the work to improve their diversity & inclusion efforts in their campaigns over the past decade, and even in the months since the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement in May following the murder of George Floyd.

Many marketers have put in the work to improve their diversity & inclusion efforts in their campaigns over the past decade, and even in the months since the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement in May following the murder of George Floyd.

But the efforts that are equally important to marketers like Alexis Kerr, Head of Multicultural Marketing, Multicultural Strategy, Content & Execution at Cadillac, are employee diversity & inclusion. 

“Inclusion is respecting Alexis Kerr as a person and what I’m going through,” she said at Brand Innovators’ latest Multicultural Marketing Livecast on October 8. “Connect with me as an African American female who is still trying to do an amazing job while dealing with what is going on in the world. I’m not seeing this from the outside – I’m dealing and healing and I’m also working and doing a fantastic job. Listen to your African American employees and start at home to understand how the environment at your company is impacting your employees. Those are things that I value and what makes me feel included.”

Alia Kemet, Vice President, Creative & Digital Communications at McCormick & Company, noted that her experience of being a Black woman rising the ranks in marketing helped her establish a strong work ethic early on. “To anyone trying to break in, you need to be gritty, especially if you’re a person of color,” she said. “I hate to bring up this mantra, but it’s true. If you're a person of color, a Black person in particular, you have to work harder than the next person. So I come to the table with my goal being ‘Always win against myself.’ I have high standards. I want to be that person that comes in and does something that no one else has done before and completely transform business results.” 

Read on for four takeaways from the Livecast, including additional insights from senior marketers at PepsiCo and Unilever.

Multicultural faces in your advertising should be the starting point of a true commitment to D&I. “When you’re impacting communities and lives through your advertising, that’s when you make a difference,” said Cadillac’s Kerr. “When you start to employ people behind the camera that reflect that diversity on screen, that’s when brands really make a short-term and a long-term difference and that’s what we’re working to do at Cadillac. It’s that level of storytelling that really unfolds far beyond just casting. These are the things that we need to do and continue to do.” 

Diversity should start at the organizational level. “Everything you do has to be through the lens of inclusion,” said Mita Mallick, Head of Diversity and Cross-Cultural Marketing at Unilever. “Leaders need to be held accountable to how inclusive of a leader they are. If I constantly show up to meetings presenting my teams work, without inviting my team to the table, allowing them to showcase their work, what kind of leader am I? If I’m a leader who has a strong track record of promoting people and giving them great assignments, let’s focus on the positive. Let’s celebrate that you're doing amazing things as an inclusion leader.”

Brands should let their marketing leaders be activists within their organizations. Yasmin Grant is director of multicultural marketing at PepsiCo, but she’s very active at the company outside of her day job. Employers should encourage their employees to pursue social causes they are passionate about through their companies, and Grant’s path is proof of that. I am co-chair of Mosaic, which is our black employee resource group,” Grant said. “I am also on the advisory board for The League, which is an initiative that was started in marketing to uplift female marketers. And then obviously with the racial climate being what it is, we have formed a task force to really identify the right equality actions to undertake on behalf of the Black community, and I am part of that. I have been with PepsiCo for seven years. What has kept me here is that I can do meaningful work. I feel like I am doing work that makes a difference and PepsiCo gives me a platform for my activism.” 

Don’t forget to segment your multicultural audience more granularly. Marketers need to constantly be observing media and emerging platforms, including TikTok and other social platforms that arise. But as with all other segments of the market, not every multicultural audience will be found on every platform, which brands sometimes tend to forget.  “We are always keeping track, anecdotally, of what people are doing on Twitter and other social media,” said PepsiCo’s Grant. “But for my brand and for my consumer target, [I have to think about] what makes the most sense because not every platform makes sense. The community might not be there.”

For PepsiCo’s Hispanic audience targets, Grant continued, “We have very detailed segmentation that ranges from consumers that are more traditional and rely more on close connections to culture from home. And then we’ve got folks that are a bit more dialed into American culture. And then we’ve got a segment that is somewhere in the middle.” Understanding and messaging to those nuances is key. “For folks that are ‘preservers,’ the folks more dialed into home, TikTok may not be the best platform or the best way to reach them. For them, it is more radio, more out of home, more traditional media.”

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