Advertising, at its core, demands that the advertisers understand their target consumer enough to be able to sell a good or service to them. They must understand the consumer’s needs, both emotional and physical, what makes them tick and will drive them to action and where the intersection between the product and the human truth of the consumer’s need lies.
As most advertising is done by upscale urban white male 30-something hipsters who live on the coast and, by and large, the population of the United States is not primarily made up of up upscale urban white male 30-something hipsters who live on the coast, the craft of advertising requires the ability to understand people who are not like you.
In many cases, it requires the ability to understand people who you do not even like all that much…like the producer who told me that Catholic Midwesterners were hateful, bigoted idiots who weren’t smart enough to understand what was good for them while he was with me in an edit suite producing a spot targeted directly at them…(on a side note, as a Catholic Midwesterner – he didn’t know that about me when he opened his big mouth, I am happy to tell anyone who emails just what production company that guy worked for so you can avoid him).
This line of thinking popped into my mind after reading the AdAge Big Tent article about GM’s reshuffling of its multi-cultural agency roster.
The key ‘graph in that article gets to the core of the black agency issue:
GM’s announcement, intentional or not, has at the very least, planted the seed of a dangerous precedent for others to follow. Notably, GM’s decision openly and unfairly questions Black agencies’ value and has illuminated their bleak future.
In modern America, where these is a convergence of tastes, income and sociability among the races, why is there a need for black-specific agencies? And wouldn’t there be more of a business opportunity by black-owned agencies if they went gunning for general market advertising and gave up on the whole idea of the multi-cultural niche?
It may not be as easily said as done, but if black agencies do good work (and from what I have seen, that is very clearly the case), it seems like there is a huge opportunity here.
Because if you’re a good advertiser, you don’t have to be the race, color, gender or nationality of the people you are selling to. I might be preaching to the choir by focusing on those in the industry and should rather focus on the clients who, according to MultiCult Classics, don’t consider black agencies for general market work.
If that is the case, shame on them.
It’s not about skin color or diversity or multiculturalism, it’s about talent. There are a lot of general market agencies out there that are short on talent working on great clients who need a good agency to take the reins…why not consider a classicly “multicultural” agency?
You may be surprised just how much fresher their thinking would be than the thinking from one of the Big Dumb Agencies.