Multicultural marketing the right way

‘There’s a fine line between being relatable and condescending.’

March 25, 2019

When the California Milk Processing Board introduced the Spanish version of its iconic “Got Milk?” ad campaign, it used the direct Spanish translation.

Unfortunately, the slogan’s direct translation is “are you lactating?”

That’s one example of multicultural marketing gone awry that Luis Soto, marketing manager for VantageWest Credit Union, Tucson, Ariz., shared with 2019 CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council Conference attendees Thursday in Las Vegas.

As America becomes more diverse, multicultural marketing grows in importance, he says. However, “There’s a fine line between being relatable and condescending.”

Soto cites statistics showing multi-cultural Americans account for more than one-third of the population, and that the white majority will end by 2043.

“We’ve reached a multicultural tipping point,” Soto says. “We need to rethink multiculturism to include family connections, interests, marriage, place of residence, and more.”

Here’s how credit unions can reach out to diverse groups without offending them:

  • Hire a diverse team. Hire employees and elect board members who represent the communities you serve.
  • Research. Understand your community, and listen to credit union employees who are part of the groups you’re targeting. “More than 90% of Hispanics in Arizona are already banked,” he says. “So saying ‘we’ll open your first checking account’ would be offensive.”
  • Be inclusive—but careful. Celebrate groups, but don’t exclude others. “There is such a thing as trying too hard,” Soto says, citing ads that include photos of people from every ethnic group.
  • Be authentic. Don’t change your brand identity to market to a group. Also, strategize. A campaign is only one component of a multicultural strategy.
  • Localize. Use local images, videos, and copy.
  • Share stories of real members. “Organic content is the most powerful tool we have,” Soto says. “When it’s authentic and genuine, people buy into it.”

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