- Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017
In his keynote address at the ANA’s recently held Multicultural Marketing and Diversity Conference in Miami, Marc Pritchard, chief brand officer of Procter & Gamble, said that the U.S. is at a “cultural crossroads” requiring marketers to combat racial prejudice which threatens to undermine a decades-long march toward parity among different consumer groups.
Pritchard affirmed the importance of brands making the commitment to create responsible, powerful multi-cultural advertising. The issue is personal for him in that he is half-Mexican.
“My father was Mexican-American, but he was adopted by a man with an English name,” he said to the ANA gathering. “Growing up, I had the ability to move between White and Latino cultures. But when entering the workforce, I suppressed my Mexican heritage, for fear of being labeled, because I had heard these denigrating terms used many times in my life.... I came to grips with my own biases to change my attitudes and behavior. I recognized the privilege of being viewed as White, with a name like ‘Pritchard’ and decided to share my personal story and open up a dialogue within our company.”
Pritchard’s impassioned speech outlined his company’s belief that shattering “myths” about multicultural marketing is vital to moving brands in the right direction.
“At P&G, we’ve made a choice to step up and use our voice in advertising as a force for good and a force for growth by taking a stand on racial equality,” said Pritchard who outlined three steps the company has taken to tackle marketing biases:
- Representation & portrayals: Alongside dramatically increasing the diversity depicted in its ads, P&G stands in opposition to pernicious and inaccurate stereotypes. This notion is epitomized by ads for Swiffer, Dawn and Luvs that feature dedicated, doting African-American dads. Pritchard said: “Black fathers are often unfairly stereotyped as being absent or inattentive. We view our advertising right with Black families as the highest bar to clear.”
- Products: Pantene’s Gold Series haircare products, introduced in March 2017, is tailor-made for African-American women. This new product undermines two common biases. The first, explained Pritchard, “is that the brand’s existing offerings were designed for straight and round hair rather than for the characteristics of Black hair,” and secondly it challenges unfair online illustrations of African-American hair by deliberately celebrating Black women’s hair as “unique, strong and beautiful.”
- Social action: In reaction to racial prejudices re-surfacing, P&G have crafted a multi-brand platform entitled “My Black is Beautiful” designed to celebrate African-American cultural identity and start a conversation around racial biases.
Geoffrey Precourt, U.S. editor at research consultancy WARC, who attended the conference, agreed that bias was coming to the forefront in some parts of society. “Even as multicultural audiences are growing in size and affluence, they are also witnessing renewed push-back from the less-progressive corners of American society.” Precourt went on to observe that Pritchard’s keynote remarks were “particularly impressive in that they elevated marketing and advertising from a powerful brand-focused business practice to a force that can react to-and shape-public affairs.” The P&G exec in effect called for business leaders and brands to step up and take a leadership role against bias and stereotypes.
As consumers across the board are growing more interested in the social preference of the companies they do business with, WARC summarized that for effective brand marketing in today’s world, understanding and reflecting the unique characteristics of different demographics is essential for delivering campaigns that truly respect the individual.