Multicultural TV: Franklin Urges Marketers To Find Cultural 'Sweet Spot'

Savvy Millennials Respond To Messages That Reflect Who They Really Are

Smart marketers going after the growing markets of young multiculturals will use research and insights into how those people think about themselves and find the “sweet spot” in messaging that resonates. That was a lesson from Esther “E.T.” Franklin, executive vice president and head of SMG Americas Experience Strategy at Starcom MediaVest Group, in a conversation opening the Multicultural TV Summit and Leadership Awards in New York City.

Her interest in culture and identity led her to work on Beyond Demographics, proprietary research exploring the role of subculture in redefining broader communities. Those efforts started with research into African-Americans and then expanded to Latino, Asian-American and LGBT communities.

Take African-American women, for example. Depictions of “fly girls” and “playas” might work if you are selling music or fashion, Franklin said. But those archetypes, while true, only fit some 3% of African-American women, she said, meaning “there’s 97% of the community that’s underleveraged.”

Franklin describes her approach as going “inside-out” – discovering how members of an audience group see themselves, and using that intelligence about cultural identity and media consumption to create marketing that rings true to the people being targeted as consumers.

Dade Hayes, the Broadcasting & Cable executive editor who led the conversation with Franklin, mentioned the Super Bowl commercial that featured “America the Beautiful” sung in eight different languages and featuring people of different ethnicities. While the ad performed well overall, there was some “blowback” against the concept, Hayes said.

Franklin said she wasn’t surprised there were some negative reactions, but that smart marketers will push forward with efforts to more accurately portray the people they want to reach with their ads. "These consumers are much more sophisticated, they are extremely savvy and they know how to use their dollar, and their Nielsen black box, to say you are not connecting with me,” she said.

The study of U.S. Latinos revealed that they “toggle” between Spanish and English frequently, rather than speaking Spanish at home and mostly English at work. It also found that about half of Latinos identify themselves as black, brown or Mestizo. Telemundo Media used that research in creating a “dramela” – a serial novela aimed at a younger audience – for the mun2 network with good effect, Franklin said. (A Telemundo rep said the show in question was RPM Miami.)

The summit and leadership awards, at the Grand Hyatt in New York City, was produced by Multichannel News and B&C.