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Why AdLand Celebrates Multicultural Advertising
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
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We have all seen the posts and articles from our friends and colleagues about the demise of "multicultural advertising," meaning the end of Hispanic-focused, African-American- focused agencies, projects, and campaigns. Our colleagues are decry that "people cannot simply be herded by mere demographics" anymore. Both blacks and whites share characteristics when it comes to technology, media consumption, and leisure. Blacks and Hispanics share tastes in food, culture, and income levels. Let us focus on separating markets based on habits, rather than color.

The talk doesn't match the walk.

Our favorite organization, the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) announced the nominees for multicultural excellence awards. ANA's Multicultural Marketing and Diversity committee sponsors and judges the awards, and hope to bring more light to the important topics when it comes to this form of advertising. Categories for the awards include African-American, Hispanic, General Market, LGBT, Asian focuses to best digital, print, radio, and "significant results."

More though, needs to be done.

The Washington Post came out with numbers that show the little emphasis AdLand as a whole puts on ethnic markets, with the African-American community in particular. Out of the $120 billion that was spent in advertising in 2011, only 2 percent went to media focusing on African-Americans. 

$2.4 Billion.

To break it down even further, using the population statistics compiled by the U.S. Census, AdLand spends $55 for every African-American, compared to $439 for the rest of the market. 

The ANA, which is far from a regulatory organization, is doing what it can to bring attention to the issue of multicultural advertising. That is why it is trying to celebrate those that engage in multicultural advertising. Awards and recognition are the positive reinforcements AdLand has to offer to encourage behavior and practices it wants to permeate throughout the industry. Every creative director wants to be praised for work, every account director wants to see the agency be awarded for work on an account they got, and every client wants to be noticed for using award-winning creative to connect to their audiences.

But will awards and pats on the back change the lackluster relationship between AdLand and multicultural media? We doubt it.

But kudos for ANA for giving it a shot.

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About the Author
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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