Multicultural Marketing That Works: Transcending Cultural Barriers

Multicultural Marketing That Works: Transcending Cultural Barriers

You’ve seen the carefully curated (and often awkward) ads like the one above. There’s usually one blond Aryan giant with piercing blue eyes. One light brown person who might be Latin American. Maybe a beautiful redhead with freckles that look drawn on with a Sharpie standing with her arm around a vaguely Asian guy. And, of course, there’s almost always someone with a huge afro.

This “Benneton-ization” approach to advertising is not multicultural marketing. Even when done well, it’s a transparently lazy way to satisfy a requirement to introduce “diversity.” Done poorly, it’s insulting and potentially highly offensive.

Don’t be insulting and/or offensive.

Now that we’re able to get information with the touch of a button, a swipe of a finger and even the sound of one’s voice, multicultural marketing is more important than ever. Audiences are becoming increasingly diverse, and it can be difficult to know who to target with your marketing efforts — as well as how to speak to them.

Effective multicultural marketing transcends boundaries. Here are some things to keep in mind when developing a multicultural strategy:

Look beyond race. It’s called “multicultural” instead of “multiracial” for a reason. While race obviously sometimes plays a role, think more broadly than just skin color or eye shape. Develop an understanding of what’s important to your target audience at a cultural level. Know the cultural significance of various colors, numbers, words and images. Think about their family traditions, historical perspectives and other touchpoints.

Do more than just translate. If you think sticking your website into Google Translate and using what it spits out is multicultural marketing, you’re making a huge mistake. Languages have nuances, and direct translations don’t typically catch those. “Sweating the small stuff” now and investing in resources like native speakers or professional translation can significantly improve results and reduce headaches down the road.

Focus on universal themes. What if you don’t have the budget for multilingual communications? Pictures are worth a thousand words and video is worth a million. Focusing on visuals conveying love, family and other universal themes can say a lot without literally saying anything at all. Imagery like a family around a dinner table, a mother holding a child, or a nurse or doctor tending to a smiling patient are all situations that people can identify with.

Go where your audience is. Do you know what channels your audience is using? For instance, Pew Research Center found that Instagram and Facebook are more popular social media platforms among Latinos, while Pinterest and Facebook were more popular among whites. Putting your multicultural collateral where your target audience will see it can lead to better return on investment.

Let Wax Custom Communications tailor your marketing for a global audience. Call us at 305-350-5700 or visit to see how the #1 winningest agency at the Healthcare Advertising Awards can make your marketing multicultural.