Dive into diversity

Dive into diversity
SHARE
THIS



Australian brands have been extremely slow to represent the diversity of Australia, and even slower to properly target its different sectors. But, as Claudine Capel reports, this melting pot is full of money.

When asked if Australian advertising today truly represents our society as it is, the answer from the industry is a resounding ‘no’. But the truth is that no-one seems to see this as a huge problem.

We know that consumers in general understand that the remit of advertisers is not to be representative – or even fair – but to make money. And therefore commercial advertising is perhaps not held under the same politically correct microscope as government advertising, or even TV shows, would be.

Yet, it’s fair to say our consumers would like to see Aussie brands try a bit harder. They’d like the world of ads to reflect the society we actually live in – with the various ethnic groups, and other sectors such as the gay community and the disabled – represented.

Some brands and sectors are doing this well and have done for a long time. But, others most certainly are not.

Yet interestingly, it’s not just the brands who want to be seen as politically correct and inclusive that stand to gain from reflecting diversity – it’s any brand that wants to make money. Global brands Nike, McDonald’s and Apple have known this for years and have become the go-to labels for young affluent people of every different nationality. But Aussie marketers seem to be ignoring the potential sitting in their own backyard.

Quoting figures from the 2011 Census, Lorraine Jokovic, chief executive of The Loud Group, which includes the Loud Multicultural division, explains: “One in four Australians speak a language other than English at home, and population growth from migration is 12 times faster than from Australian-born residents. Six years ago the multicultural markets’ spending power was valued at $75 billion annually, and that’s conservative.”

A 2010 study by Professor Andrew Jakubowicz, Professor of Sociology at the University of Technology Sydney, states that Britain has a lower proportion of people in society that are “visibly different” than Australia. Yet that diversity is actually much better represented on TV in the UK.

This is certainly something Aussie brands should sit up and take notice of. Not only because they want to be seen as progressive, but because they may be alienating consumers.

“If your target market cannot project themselves into your fantasy you probably won’t win them as customers,” explains Daniel Laforest, general manager of media agency Spots and Space. “We are well past the PR spin of multiculturalism that was so big in the ‘90s. Now it’s just good business.”

Money to be made

With Australia in 2013 more ethnically diverse than it has ever been, the spending power of ethnic Australians is also on the up.

Rick Yamine, managing director of marketing and research agency Cultural Partners, says brands here have been slow to realise this potential: “Everybody’s got an idea of the size and the wealth of the market but they’ve never strategically gone after it. And there are amazing gains to be made.The affluence coming in from China, Taiwan, Korea and India far outstretches anything there is here in the middle class.”

Jokovic of The Loud Group adds: “Population trends suggest that in the next two decades, one in two Australians will be of Asian background. These culturally and linguistically diverse – or CALD – audiences are young singles and couples, highly educated, affluent, brand conscious and aspirational, with disposable incomes higher than the Australian-born average.”

It’s not just ethnic communities with money to spend that are being ignored by brands in Australia. The disabled population is increasingly making in-roads into the world of work and changing perceptions that they are reliant and lack funds.

“Although people with disabilities are generally considered to be poor, they do have disposable income,” says Stephen Gianni, national policy officer at the Australian Federation of Disability Organisations (ADFO). “They’re getting out and about more in the community, and their families and friends most certainly have disposable incomes.”

Brands that beg to differ

Yet, say you’re a marketing director, who knows all this, but wants to cast your net wide. You may feel that the larger proportion of your target market are Caucasian, able-bodied, middle income people. Therefore, those are the types of people you will cast in your ads. Because logically, representing the largest group will create the greatest resonance… right?

Gianni would disagree. “Although being white, middle class and male is the biggest segment of society, there is diversity within that segment. Even white, middle class males have relationships with their families, communities and schools – it’s much more complex than who they are as a primary consumer.

“The thing to remember is if I’m not from a minority group and I see an ad, which has a more complex representation of society, I automatically assume I am being included too.”

Andrew Cook, director of SBS Media, who has recently launched a campaign targeted at advertisers called Diversity Works (pictured below), knows the power of greater respresentation.

“There’s a feel-good factor when people aren’t excluded. The modern Australia is trying to make sure you talk to everyone equally and not just engage specific communities. So I think that brands that do advertise to those communities are going to resonate.”

The ads today that are reflecting diversity well are from those sectors actively going after minority groups, as Katherine Raskob, group marketing manager at SBS explains: “Traditionally, Australian telcos, banks and insurers have executed campaigns targeted to an increasingly diverse Australia because they recognise the power in reaching beyond the mainstream to attract more customers.”

Laforest, whose agency Spots and Space puts advertisers in touch with a whole spectrum of media channels – including indigenous, ethnic, LGBTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex), community and disabled channels, points out some other examples of brands that have made a play into this space.

“Some industries have a natural market with migrants, such as travel, money transfer and telecommunications companies.

“Others do simple like things to win the market such as KFC offering Halal chicken, or the Melbourne supermarket chain , which last year advertised Italian Proscuitto at $17 per kilo – down from $40 per kilo – exclusively in the Italian media and attracted queues down the street.”

Other recent examples of brands targeting diverse ethnic markets are Perisher ski resort going after Indian visitors, the lotteries producing special Chinese New Year scratch cards and Western Union targeting Pacific Islander and Filipino customers.

The stumbling blocks

Yet why are brands, who are looking for customers among everyday Australians, failing to reflect diversity in their communications?

Not only that but, when they do represent difference, it’s not always in the best light. A 2005 study by Higgs and Milner called Portrayals Of Cultural Diversity In Australian Television Commercials: A Benchmark Study, showed the portrayal of ethnically diverse people in advertising was unbalanced.

While white/Caucasian characters were more likely to be shown in work-related situations and positions of responsibility, the characters from non-white backgrounds were “less likely to be spokespersons, more likely to be seen as recipients of help and more likely to be seen in passive situations”.

Although things may have changed somewhat since 2005, this study does raise a connected issue. On the one hand, stereotypes can be offensive and turn a consumer away from a brand’s messaging. But on the other, as brands only have a few precious seconds to get their message across, they can be useful.

Peter Butler, radio network manager for the Vision Australia Radio Network, a radio network aimed at the blind or vision impaired, says that minorities aren’t always represented “fairly”, but that he understands why.

“Ads tend to use stereotypes, but if you are trying to cut through you probably need to do that to make it understandable,” he says.

AFDO’s Gianni agrees: “Generally the disabled people represented in advertising are those where you can see their disability. The easiest one is someone in a wheelchair, blind people, or deaf people talking through sign language. The most difficult thing is to represent people whose disabilities you can’t see, such as anxiety sufferers.”

Representation of the gay community is also tricky in this sense because unless a brand is solely trying to speak to this sector, by running an ad in the gay press, then it is difficult to blend gay characters into a mainstream ad without making a point of it.

“How should a gay guy act in an advertisement?” asks Vision Australia’s Butler.

Raskob of SBS cites the example of the Westpac ads of January 2011 which caused complaints to the ASB for stereotyping gay men. “Perhaps Westpac went a bit far with its characterisation, but kudos to them for at least trying,” she says.

Johanne Walsh, director of children’s clothing brand Rock Your Baby, has recently used a child with Down Syndrome in her advertising, but understands that this can create controversy simply because it isn’t the norm. “I would like to see disabled or ‘different’ children being used in advertising more often but it is hard to escape the tokenism of it,” she says.

Chris Brown, CEO of DDB Australia, knows that while is is great to have ads that reflect difference, navigating the space and doing it “right” isn’t always easy. “I have a personal connection to this subject as my daughter has Down Syndrome so I understand the strong sentiment and connection to ensuring communication pieces can speak to the many faces of Australia,” he explains.

“The job of selecting talent is never an easy one. The question that is primarily asked is: can the consumer see themselves in the eyes, shoes, heart of this person? I passionately want broader representation but it is fair to say this is not always an easy challenge.”

Reaching out and getting it right

It seems that on the road to representative advertising, you can end up feeling damned if you do and damned if you don’t. So how does our imaginary marketing director make sure that when they represent diversity in their ads, they get it right?

Jules Hall, managing partner at The Hallway, believes the message of the ad needs to strike a chord, more than the diversity of characters within that ad. “In a multicultural nation like Australia, the more diverse the ethnicity of its audience is likely to be,” he says.

“But regardless of scale, brands first have to connect with their audience around a fundamental human truth, and then overlay ethnicity.”

(Above: The Victorian Government's 'Get it right on bin night' campaign')

SBS’ Raskob adds: “I would argue that consumers’ propensity to buy a product or service as a result of advertising is predicated on whether they feel that product or service is for them.” 

She points to soap brand Dove and its ‘Campaign for Real Beauty’, which featured female body shapes that aimed to reflect real women’s bodies, rather than those of models. “Naturally, that advertising connected with a broader range of women who felt the products were for people like them,” she explains.

Rock Your Baby’s Walsh gets actual customers to be the stars of her ads, so she knows other customers will be able to relate. “We never use children from modelling agencies but put calls out on our social media. The children we use for our campaigns are already engaged with the brand, and therefore their ethnic diversity represents our real market,” she says.

All brands are wary of getting it wrong, and rightly so. They have to tread a fine line.

“Advertising sometimes wants to strike a chord and create a bit of controversy, and as long as it’s done in the right way and with a sense of humour it can work,” says SBS’ Cook. “But if it’s done in the wrong way culturally, it can have the opposite effect.”

Cultural Partners’ Yamine says a good understanding of the groups you are targeting or representing is crucial for advertisers. “If you don’t understand your market, you aren’t able to target it,” he says.

Something both Cook and Yamine feel is key is having insider knowledge of the diverse markets you are targeting. The engagement of experts – such as the multicultural division of Loud, Spots and Space, Cultural Partners or SBS – could be one place to start. But another option to consider is actually hiring staff from these target groups.

Ad agency Droga5 recently spearheaded a drive in the industry to hire disabled people called Creative Spirit. In terms of hiring greater numbers from ethnic communities, Australia can learn a lesson from the US.

“Many years ago, advertising agencies in the US recognised that if they wanted to more effectively market to minorities and diverse groups of consumers, they needed staff from these groups,” explains Raskob from SBS.

“With the help of specialist advertising councils and federations, they strove for recruitment programs that were effective in getting minorities interested in advertising and into agency roles where they could bring their perspective and expertise.

“Perhaps Australia could make some attempts at enlisting talent from a broader, non-traditionally white graduate population? That would a great start.”

Media plans with diversity

Aside from the etiquette of representing diversity correctly, another stumbling block for advertisers wanting to reach certain markets is that they don’t know how to speak their language, literally.

Stats provided by Spots and Space show that, in Australia, 2000 hours of programming each week is produced in a language other than English. There are 41 full-time foreign language radio stations throughout Australia plus numerous print, pay TV and online channels.

Alongside the foreign language media, the LGBTI community also has 11 print titles with a circulation of over 200,000, plus Melbourne has its own LGBTI radio station, and the visually impaired have their own radio network.

With all these smaller channels reaching a fraction of the population each time, you can see why marketing directors often take the easy route and stick with representing their largest market on mainstream channels.

“Many of the advertisers I’ve spoken with over the years believe that because the sheer number of publications and media available – for instance, there are 73 Chinese publications within Australia alone – that it’s too difficult to manage and they struggle to be able to fully understand the ROI,” says Loud’s Jokovic.

But Cultural Partners’ Yamine says ignoring these channels is a mistake.

“Research that we’ve done over two decades strongly supports targeting markets in their own channels and languages. It’s much more effective and is a fraction of the price of running ads in the mainstream media. Unfortunately it’s only well developed in certain languages in Australia, and in most other languages it’s still in its infancy.”

And Laforest adds:“Brands do play in this space. Some dip in at times of celebration like Chinese New Year, Diwali or Mardi Gras. But very few brands commit to including this media in their mix year-round.”

SBS’ Cook admits that the cost of producing different versions of your ad can rack up, but feels that brands should definitely consider it.

“Yes it does cost more, but some of these communities are fairly large, in the hundreds of thousands, so in those cases it’s certainly worthwhile,” he says. “Brands may have a separate budget to talk to the CALD community and when they do we are able to help them connect to these communities.”

Butler of Vision Australia says the data around these smaller channels needs to be improved, and that this would encourage brands to venture into this space.

“There needs to be a better awareness of the community media out there targeting a certain sector,” he says.

“The problem is that we can’t present the Nielsen figures the commercial sector can do. We use McNair Ingenuity, but it’s regarded as not as authentic as Nielsen’s results. I’ve been told by an agency ‘if you aren’t on the Nielsen figures, you aren’t on the radar’.”

DDB’s Brown also points out that new media channels such as social media can help.

“The advantage of social is that it gives brands a far greater opportunity to talk to minority groups, understand their needs and evaluate the effectiveness of their communication,” he says.

Just do it

The key message for brands to take away is that, despite the fact that targeting minority groups requires effort, it’s actually bad for business to leave it off of media plans – and there’s also no reason not to reflect a true-to-life portrait of Australia today in the ads themselves.

“It’s certainly worth the effort,” says Cultural Partners’ Yamine. “Ethnic groups often don’t have entrenched perceptions about brands. That’s why brands should be going after them. The results can be outstanding.”

In terms of the disabled community, AFDO’s Gianni believes there should be more discussion around the right way to target and portray this community in advertising.

“People don’t talk about women any more in the way they used to,” he says. “There’s a line that you don’t cross now and we need to establish that line for people with disabilties.”

DDB’s Brown feels the industry needs to take matters into its own hands on this issue. “We need to ensure this is put on the industry agenda as the advertising industry universally has been slow in the representation of broader groups and can certainly take more of a leading stance on this,” he says.

Interestingly, the Communications Council declined to be a part of this feature when approached, as they didn’t feel they had enough research available to back up their comments – which is perhaps a fact that speaks for itself.

Brown adds: “Australia provides a rich and diverse cultural lens through which we can showcase our communication. “There is no such thing as a stereotypical Australian and the industry’s challenge is to better reflect this in the campaigns we create.”

 

The closed captioning shop

Back in July 2012, a B&T investigation revealed the lack of commitment on the part of certain advertisers to add closed captioning – for the deaf and hearing impaired – to their commercials.

Big names such as Westfield, Coles, Ford, Hungry Jack’s and Woolworths were among advertisers who weren’t captioning, and with one in six Australians suffering from hearing impairment, there seemed to be no excuse. Days later, Coles and Hungry Jack’s backtracked and committed to include closed captioning on all future TVCs.

Michael Lockrey, deaf advocate and sales manager for Amara subtitles, an open source, crowd sourcing approach to captioning and subtitling, says unfortunately there has been no real change in the situation since then, that there is a barrier to entry with the prices of captioning in Australia being unnecessarily high, and the use of proprietary file formats stopping competitor services.

“The smart brands and advertisers already do the right thing because they understand that providing closed captioning on TVCs helps them to achieve their marketing objectives,” he says.

But he adds: “I still believe that there is a ‘closed shop’ mentality amongst the captioning service providers in Australia and they seem to charge very high rates for TVCs.”

Please login with linkedin to comment

Latest News

Why Consumer Brands Are Failing Aussie Mums
  • Marketing
  • Opinion
  • Partner Content

Why Consumer Brands Are Failing Aussie Mums

Is your game chainsaws or large marlin wall-hangings? Can't seem to attract the mums? This couldn't come soon enough.

Opinion

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Network Ten Creditors Approve CBS Deal
  • Media

Network Ten Creditors Approve CBS Deal

It seems the fight for Ten between CBS and media moguls Lachlan Murdoch and Bruce Gordon may finally be over.

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
MKTG Signs Exclusive Commercial Partnership With PlayersVoice
  • Marketing
  • Media

MKTG Signs Exclusive Commercial Partnership With PlayersVoice

MKTG has announced it has signed an exclusive commercial partnership with newly-launched sports storytelling site PlayersVoice.com.au – an agreement that will see the agency move into a new territory of sports marketing. The partnership between MKTG and PlayersVoice will see the business managing brand partnership opportunities for the new platform; working with clients to deliver […]

Domo Introduces New Data Security Software Solution
  • Marketing
  • Technology

Domo Introduces New Data Security Software Solution

Domo has announced it has introduced new cloud security technology for its Bring Your Own Key (BYOK) software, which includes unique capabilities like rolling generation of data encryption keys and a built-in kill switch. Domo BYOK is the first BYOK enterprise software solution for cloud analytics and business intelligence, and builds on the company’s existing security, compliance and […]

Shopper Media Group Grows Sydney & Melbourne Sales Teams
  • Advertising
  • Marketing
  • Media

Shopper Media Group Grows Sydney & Melbourne Sales Teams

Shopper Media Group (SMG) has continued to grow its Sydney and Melbourne sales teams to keep up with the demand for Smartlite Panels for shopping centres. Ashley Munro joins SMG as group sales manager for Sydney, having previously worked in a similar role at NOVA Entertainment. Laura Mason has been appointed as SMG’s business manager […]

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 14:  Usain Bolt of Jamaica competes in the Men's 100 meter semifinal on Day 9 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on August 14, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
  • Advertising
  • Media

Olympics, Census Prove Tough Hurdles For Media Agencies: SMI

Australia’s media agency market has experienced another tough month in August, according to the latest data by Standard Media Index (SMI). SMI noted the softer demand this time around was primarily due to the Rio Olympics and Census providing abnormal bookings last year, resulting in demand for August 2017 so far being back 12.1 per […]

The Monkeys Takes Over From M&C Saatchi On NRMA’s Creative Account
  • Advertising

The Monkeys Takes Over From M&C Saatchi On NRMA’s Creative Account

Accenture-owned agency The Monkeys has bolstered its client ranks, having been chosen to handle the creative for the NRMA. The Monkeys CEO Paul Green confirmed to B&T that the agency had been appointed to the NRMA account by parent company IAG, which also includes brands CGU and Swann Insurance. M&C Saatchi was the incumbent creative […]

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
A waitress carries beer mugs in the Hofbraeuhaus tent after the opening of the famous Bavarian
  • Marketing

Study: Why No Or Low Alcohol Beers Are Fast Becoming Drinking’s “New Cool”

New research from global market intelligence agency Mintel reveals that over a quarter of consumers in France (28 per cent) and Germany (27 per cent ) agree that low (under 3.5 per cent) or no alcohol beer tastes just as good as full-strength beer. And while younger consumers may have been the most enthusiastic drinkers in previous generations, […]

Engine Group Encourages Queenslanders To ‘Go Local’ In New TVC For State Govt
  • Advertising
  • Campaigns

Engine Group Encourages Queenslanders To ‘Go Local’ In New TVC For State Govt

Brisbane creative agency Engine Group has launched an integrated campaign for the Queensland government promoting the benefits of buying locally and supporting local small businesses. The ‘Go Local, Grow Local’ social marketing campaign celebrates small businesses across Queensland and highlights that small businesses are the lifeblood to growth in local communities. Central to the new […]

Sam Weir, Editor - The Advertiser & AdelaideNow 
 Editorial 
 
 Picture: Turner Matt
  • Media

News Corp Appoints New Editor For The Courier-Mail

News Corp Australia has announced the appointment of Sam Weir (pictured above) as editor of Queensland’s The Courier-Mail. Weir is one of Australia’s most accomplished editors, having edited the Perth Sunday Times and for the last four-and-a-half years, The Advertiser in Adelaide. News Corp Australasia executive chairman Michael Miller said: “I am delighted Sam has […]

Is This The Creepiest Ice-Cream Ad Ever?
  • Campaigns

Is This The Creepiest Ice-Cream Ad Ever?

Look, a terrifying ice-cream ad! And by "terrifying" we really mean Tony Abbott in his sluggos kind of "terrifying".

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Creatives, Step Up To The CX Plate!
  • Marketing
  • Opinion

Creatives, Step Up To The CX Plate!

Aussie creatives urged to step up to the CX plate! That's the Adobe boss saying it; like B&T would never say try harder.

Opinion

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
InMobi’s Anne Frisbie On Ad Fraud
  • Advertising

InMobi’s Anne Frisbie On Ad Fraud

B&T sat down for a chinwag with InMobi’s Anne Frisbie who thought only half of our questions were poor & unresearched.

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Facebook Provides More Clarity & Control For Brands
  • Advertising
  • Media

Facebook Provides More Clarity & Control For Brands

Facebook has announced it is taking action to provide more clarity and controls for advertisers. The updates include: Third-party verification Facebook is seeking accreditation from the Media Ratings Council and set a timeline of 18 months to audit, review and accredit Facebook measurement across three key areas: first-party served ad impression reporting; third-party viewability partner […]

Ogilvy Duo To lead Miami Ad School’s 2017 Social Media Boot Camp
  • Advertising

Ogilvy Duo To lead Miami Ad School’s 2017 Social Media Boot Camp

Miami Ad School has announced that Ogilvy’s Alex Watts (head of social) and Jennifer Ngai (lead social strategist), will lead its Social Media Boot Camp in the coming spring term. The 10-week boot camp is an intensive program where students work on live briefs to create fully-executed social media campaigns, and will run from Monday […]

Kim Portrate Calls For Review Of Viewability Standard For Video Ads
  • Marketing
  • Media

Kim Portrate Calls For Review Of Viewability Standard For Video Ads

Kim Portrate, chief executive of ThinkTV, has welcomed a call today by the renowned marketing science academic Professor Karen Nelson-Field for the global advertising industry to review the current MRC viewability standard for video advertising. Speaking at ReThinkTV in Sydney, Portrate said: “Last year we asked Karen to help us understand how TV works. We […]

Streetfighter Media Adds ‘Lettered’, Choreographed Teams To Its Guerilla Marketing Offering
  • Marketing

Streetfighter Media Adds ‘Lettered’, Choreographed Teams To Its Guerilla Marketing Offering

Guerilla marketing company Streetfighter Media has launched what it claims is a world-first offering for marketers. Lettermen is people wearing letters, walking around town and pulling some choreographed moves. They spin, dance, jump, strut around and spell the word like a Mexican wave. A full range of letters and numbers are available with multiples, along […]

Outdoor Player goa Offers Charities To Win Share Of $1m Worth Of Media Space
  • Advertising
  • Media

Outdoor Player goa Offers Charities To Win Share Of $1m Worth Of Media Space

Queensland outdoor media provider goa is once again welcoming applications from community organisations far and wide looking to share their message with South East Queensland via THE goa GRID and THE ICONIC SERIES. Each year, goa chooses a number of community organisations through their Community Partnership Program to partner with and share in a whopping […]

Macpac Chooses Tryzens To Be Its E-commerce Delivery Partner
  • Marketing

Macpac Chooses Tryzens To Be Its E-commerce Delivery Partner

Outdoor apparel and equipment brand Macpac has announced it has selected Tryzens as its e-commerce delivery partner. Tryzens will help Macpac leverage capabilities of the Salesforce Commerce Cloud platform to deliver an enhanced customer experience and provide a robust, scalable platform for international expansion. Mark Jagger, digital marketing manager at Macpac, said: “e-commerce represents a […]