Diversity and Multicultural Marketing: Six Keys For Success


Diversity and Multicultural Marketing: Six Keys For Success

July 20, 2021

Marissa Price — SVP, Client Services, Sightly
Edwina Morales — VP, Multicultural Business Solutions, Horizon Media

Horizon Media (HMI) and Sightly have been partners for more than five years to drive outcomes for our brand clients. Recently, we met to share insights about our diversity and multicultural marketing best practices.

Sightly: Brand Mentality™ and United Outcomes Power Multicultural and Diversity

Like a lot of companies, last year was a turning point for us. First, we debuted our new Brand Mentality™ platform, which allows brands to move at the speed that’s really required today for marketing and media.

woman reacting to news on phone

The news cycle is faster than ever, amplified by omnipresent social and viral media. And the only way to be able to keep up is to establish who your brand is and then use machine learning and automation to move quickly and adapt your media approach in response to events as they unfold.

Here are a couple scenarios that we’ve seen…

  • A competitor does something newsworthy or controversial. Do you perceive it as a risk and avoid it? Or is there an opportunity there for you? 
  • There are calls for brand boycotts, or other social issues are heating up the news. How do you respond?

Consumers expect brands to be part of these cultural conversations now. We’re seeing brand loyalty change in an instant based on how brands choose to participate or sit on the sidelines during these big moments. 

Brand Mentality helps marketers control when and how they’re taking part in these cultural narratives.

Second, against this backdrop of developing and launching Brand Mentality, we were also acutely aware of the racial injustices and other difficulties faced by underrepresented groups.

We realized that if we’re going to challenge marketers to be more accountable for their brands, then we really have to do the same thing.

That’s what led to the formation of United Outcomes.

We’ve always said we’re outcome obsessed. Now we’re applying that same approach and mentality to three main focuses: mentorship, internship, and diversity in hiring.

young man in park with tablet device

Getting high school and college students from underrepresented groups involved early in marketing and media helps them discover which parts of the industry they might be most passionate about. And then we can give them resume-building opportunities to fuel diversity across the whole industry.

Horizon: The Boyd Initiative, Promoting from Within & Project Embrace

Diversity, equity and inclusion is Horizon Media’s DNA. We live by this ethos every day and choose to work with clients and partners such Sightly, who are equally invested in pushing this forward. 

At Horizon, we are committed to being a true organization of belonging by creating an enlightened work environment that truly reflects our diverse and unique communities. Our goal is to cultivate an environment where everyone has equitable access to learning and advancement and where our diverse community of employees really are nurtured.

We were fortunate to have a great foundation in place at Horizon to develop these programs, but for companies that need launching points for their DEI programs, a great way is to work with third party programs that already support these goals.

The Boyd Initiative Grads

One such program is The Boyd Initiative, which teaches students from HBCUs the fundamentals of media and advertising, getting them out of the textbooks and connecting them with companies like ours. 

Horizon is employing an intern from The Boyd Initiative this summer in its first virtual summer internship program. By working with third party organizations like this, you can quickly see how your company can walk the walk, promoting inclusion and diversity.

Equally important is cultivating a feeling of belonging once we bring someone into our organizations, fostering an environment that encourages people to be their full and authentic selves.

One way that our organizations elevate that is by promoting from within so that we’re continually investing in our people, making sure they feel valued. Belonging matters. In 2020, more than 30% of the open positions at Horizon were filled internally.

We believe belonging is not just for our employees, but also for brands and the customers they serve. Inclusive and culturally relevant marketing practices drive every conversation day in and day out. These practices are no longer optional, they are imperative.

Our commitment is that multicultural voices will continue to be heard and amplified. Horizon Media does so through Project Embrace, which is our agency-wide effort to empower our teams to think and act inclusively about the audiences we are trying to reach on behalf of our clients.

Now, more than ever, marketers need to transcend linear thinking to reach and engage multicultural audiences. We help our teams and clients apply diverse and inclusive thinking that leads to authentic and culturally rooted media strategies.

Horizon Media Project Embrace logo

We’re proud to have most recently worked with Sightly on a successful QSR partnership in reaching the Hispanic community. It was through this partnership that we understood the importance of Brand Mentality, which gives our brands the finer controls they need to avoid threats without making wholesale changes to their marketing that often wind up blocking multicultural media.

We all know this is an important industry issue that negatively impacts the multicultural population, especially with the constant “urgency of now” that brands face. We look forward to continuing to work together with Sightly to leverage Brand Mentality, which aligns excellently with Horizon Media’s cultural first strategic approach.

In Summary: Six Keys for Building Diversity & Multicultural Marketing Programs

For building diversity, equity and inclusion programs:

  1. Dedicate a business function or passionate group of employees.
  2. Determine the resources you can commit—financial, time, job experience, etc..
  3. Partner with groups that already have a network where your company can make an impact.
  4. Look for ways to provide ongoing support to interns and mentees. Help them discover their passions, act as a reference or check back in with them.

For refining your multicultural marketing practices:

  1. Be authentic to your brand’s/company’s mentality; authentic in your multicultural approach and messaging.
  2. Remember what happens when you assume. As we engage with multicultural audiences, we can also learn from them. That feedback loop makes for more informed media in the future and better brand interactions for both marketers and consumers.

Download the Six Keys One-Sheet to Share With Your Team

all hands in for diversity

Three Things Every Marketer Should Know About Brand Safety


Three Things Every Marketer Should Know About Brand Safety

July 10, 2021

Greg Garunov
EVP, Business Development

Brand safety is a big focus for marketing executives and players across the advertising industry. Organizations like GARM, IAB, MRC and the 4As have or are developing standards. The Brand Safety Institute has begun certifying “brand safety officers” for participating companies. But it wasn’t always this way….

What is brand safety and when did it start?

While different definitions have circulated in recent years, brand safety in its simplest form is a contextual adjacency consideration. Brand managers ask themselves, “Where are our ads appearing and is it appropriate for them to appear there?” Simple questions but not so simple answers today. To understand why, let’s go back to a time when the primary media vehicle was a black and white cabinet television, say, 70 years ago.

Family Watching Television circa 1958

Back then, there were just a handful of broadcast networks to choose from—and a limited number of programs on each network. For an advertiser, it was a pretty straightforward process of understanding where your ads were going to show up. Managing message placement wasn’t really a concept at the forefront of anyone’s mind because it was relatively easy to do.

Plus, content standards were more structured (and stringent) compared to today. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulators, network censors and affiliates, as well as the individual show producers all had interests in ensuring that programming content appealed to the broadest audiences possible—and offended the fewest viewers.

Ads were also carefully scrutinized, not just for the truthfulness of their messages but also for what brands stood for compared to “accepted values.” 

This was what brand safety and brand suitability was in its infancy. Monitoring the programming was very manageable because there were a limited number of networks and time slots. Scrutinizing ads was manageable for the same reason—there were just fewer of them.

What brand safety challenges does today’s media environment pose for marketers?

As you can tell from that 70 year-old snapshot, a lot of things are different today. Over time, more and more media placement opportunities became available with the expansion and fragmentation of channels through technological developments like cable television and eventually, the Internet.

In just the past 15 to 20  years, the explosion of social media and user-generated content platforms, specifically, have exponentially increased the volume of content and thereby, the marketing and advertising opportunities. 

Monetizing all this content has become the focus for the platforms and the individual content creators have essentially become their own showrunners and their own programmers. And since there are millions of individuals creating and distributing new content every day, the sheer volume and variability of the contexts where marketers can place their messages has at times gotten completely out of control.

UGC video creator in back of car

Over the same period, standards around language, sexual suggestion and violence—just to name a few—have gradually degraded in our society and definitely in our media. 

Aggravating circumstances even further, the global pandemic accelerated digital content consumption and helped fuel the always-breaking news cycle and constant waves of social reactions, shares, comments, shares, re-reactions, etc.

Taken together, these factors have created a perfect storm for brand safety. The media ecosystem that marketers have to navigate has transformed from a very static and manageable one 70 years ago to an exceedingly dynamic and volatile one, which, for many, is nearly unmanageable.

What can you do to handle the increased complexity and accelerated pace of social media, news, trends, etc.?

Especially during this past year, we have realized that there is a critical piece missing in the current efforts to navigate brand safety and suitability, and that is a brand’s mindset.

group of young people watching videos on theor phones

It’s become more critical than ever for a brand to respond with speed and relevance to these media, social moments and viral trends. But the challenge is that the mechanisms in the marketplace today don’t support the ability to move as quickly as a lot of brands want, and frankly, need. 

First, each brand needs to define its unique mindset—a comprehensive, granular profile that details their views and opinions and takes into account their values and purpose and how it wants to respond to the blizzard of stories and viral moments.

The other missing element is the notion of opportunity. Brand safety and suitability mechanisms are focused on mitigating risk. That’s important, for sure, but it’s not the same thing as identifying and seizing the myriad opportunities for your brand in all this chaos.

One example of an opportunity could be when a competitor’s CEO makes some controversial public comments. How quickly could you activate on that content with your message today? And how long is the impact of that particular story going to remain an opportunity for your brand? 

Or, if your brand is aligned with a particular influencer that’s made some headlines, what’s the best course of action to capitalize on (or avoid) that narrative that’s in consumers’ minds or maybe take preemptive action against competitor brands?

There are big opportunities like these, as well as thousands of smaller ones, arising and subsiding all the time. And there haven’t been any solutions to accommodate what marketers are looking to do and capitalize on them—until now. We call our solution the Brand Mentality™ platform.

CEO of Delta article

One of the more unique features about it is that we’re constantly ingesting emerging viral trends and breaking news stories to achieve this moment-by-moment response-ability that includes the opportunities brand safety and suitability solutions have missed. 

Another unique feature is the Brand Mentality profile, which allows your brand to codify its mindset, filter threats and opportunities from our massive data stream and activate them in market.

Listen to the eMarketer podcast about Brand Mentality™ and real-time marketing

Reach out to us below to learn more or take the opportunity to listen to this in depth discussion of the platform on eMarketer’s popular Behind the Numbers podcast.

Listen to the full discussion on eMarketer’s podcast

Brand mentality and the future-forward marketing revolution