As of late, the word “Diversity” seems quite ubiquitous in our industry lingo, and I often wonder why it took so long. Should we attribute it to the current political environment we are living in our already great nation? Should we thank a few visionary clients for bringing it up, especially during the pitch conversation? And we can certainly commend a new generation of leaders who have made it a point to bring this notion to the forefront and address it head on, even embarking on breaking bias initiatives!
As someone who has made a living in the Hispanic market (now better known as multicultural) for quite a few years, allow me to share a perspective: “Diversity” cannot be a quota, a checklist, or the politically correct thing to do. Diversity should be an integral component of a vision, a key element of the DNA of a company culture and an uncompromising commitment. And no, I’m not talking just as a Latino immigrant who had to fight hard to make sense of questions and comments like: “What’s Hispanic about it?” “Do we really need a separate campaign?” or “You don’t look Mexican.” I’m talking as an entrepreneur who clearly understands the enormous value and benefits of a wide range of cultural backgrounds, of diverse angles and perspectives as it relates to origin, race and gender.
Diversity should be a firm’s firm commitment, and clients will certainly reap the benefits of the rich currency of insights and freshness. Culture continues to be a powerful anchor to make a connection on behalf of brands, and a unique way to establish long term relationships with consumers that are more and more elusive, and that now can even block us. I find it odd (and even ironic) that while our industry is focused on one-on-one programmatic media, we still see certain clients approaching “Total Market” with a simplistic and even lazy view geared exclusively at achieving efficiencies – but at the expense of effectiveness. In this era of specialization, the marketing machine that keeps our economy in motion cannot afford to take the easy way out!
Now, more than ever, if you really want to disrupt and get noticed, you need to connect with an audience in a culturally relevant manner, and in order to do so you need to tap into powerful know-how and expertise. Think about it: would you go to a general practitioner if you had a heart problem? Or would it make more sense to visit a recognized cardiologist? The analogy works since you can look at multicultural talent as especially qualified to help your brand make an emotional connection with an elusive consumer segment.
The more diverse an agency is, the more it creates a unique ecosystem that can generate a fun environment, that will foster respect, openness and a spirit of collaboration. Today agencies can be a place where culture, creativity and technology converge, and where people are encouraged and empowered to celebrate their diverse upbringing.
Diversity is good business … diversity pays off … but above all, diversity is a mission statement and, as such, should be nourished, continuously enhanced and celebrated!
Luis Miguel Messianu
Luis Miguel Messianu is creative chairman and CEO of U.S. Hispanic agency Alma, Miami