Posts tagged ‘Ethnic PR agency’

January 22, 2011

Saad Saraf appointed as IPA Ethnic Diversity Group Chairman

The IPA has today (20th January) appointed Saad Saraf, Founder and CEO of Media Reach, as Chairman of the IPA’s Ethnic Diversity Group. He succeeds Trevor Robinson, OBE.

Saad has spent his career investigating the multicultural landscape of the UK and his agency Media Reach has been a driving force in the growth and development of multicultural marketing in the UK. He has also addressed many conferences and has written several papers on the subject of diversity. One of these papers includes a chapter written for the IPA’s interim report The marketing opportunities for advertisers and agencies in multi-cultural Britain (LINK), published in March 2010.

Says Saad Saraf, Founder and CEO of Media Reach: “The UK is now truly a multicultural country, and will continue to flourish in the face of diversity. The industry needs to quicken its pace to catch up with the changing face of the new society, or risk getting left behind. Not only do we need to accept it, we need to understand and embrace it.”

In 2003 the IPA Ethnic Diversity Group published its first major collaborative work on ethnic diversity which looked at the employment, portrayal and economic value of the ethnic minorities (LINK). A sequel to this report will be published on its tenth anniversary in 2013.

October 5, 2009

Do marketers Acknowledge the growth of the multicultural communities?

“It is time our industry acknowledged the growth of our multicultural communities and targeted this niche market,” says Saad Saraf, CEO, Media Reach.
Multiculturalism in the UK, especially London, is not a new phenomenon, but it is the biggest and fastest growing sector in the UK and it is high time that marketers and brand owners stopped overlooking this fact.
In terms of population, the number of BME (black and minority ethinc) groups is approaching 10% and in many cities they make up some 30-40% of the population. In terms of business, in London alone for example, there are 66,000 ethnic-owned businesses, employing 560,000 people and generating a combined sales turnover of £90 billion – and this doesn’t even include the 93,000 self-employed minority ethic people (LDA 2005). Alongside this business growth, is also a change in the make-up of the ethnic communities. They are younger, well educated, like branded goods, embrace luxury and essentially have more disposable income – in excess of £60 billion pounds in fact.
Despite this, it seems that an alarming percentage of marketers do not see any value in targeting the ethnic and multicultural audiences, or that they believe (wrongly) that their mainstream messages will reach them in the same desired ways. Marketers now need to learn to keep up with multicultural trends and how to communicate effectively with their target audiences.
Targeting the ethnic communities in the UK
It’s a well-documented fact that cultural groups and migrants usually turn to their own media for information and entertainment when they are in foreign countries.
Ethnic groups’ consumption of their own specialist media is high as it offers cultural familiarity, access to news and entertainment in their home language, extensive news from back home, as well as discussions and coverage of relevant issues facing the community.
On the other hand consumption of mainstream media is low due to lack of relevant programming, coupled with language barriers facing any new group or community (e.g. Asian, Polish, Chinese, Arab etc). The other point of contention between mainstream and ethnic media is that representation of ethnic people in mainstream media is low or in a secondary role.
Ethnic media in the UK has grown dramatically from eight titles 20 years ago to more than 56 TV stations, 24 radio channels and more than 180 titles which target the younger generations, as well as the gate keepers and influencers.
Multicultural groups embrace new technology and 61% have internet access which is higher than the mainstream average. In addition, cinemas that show Bollywood movies are extremely popular and tend to attract the younger crowd.
A recent Ofcom report into the ethnic communities found that in terms of usage and general competence, ethnic minority groups have higher levels of media literacy compared to the UK as a whole.

So in summary, my call to action is for our industry to move with the times by appealing to the wants and needs of a more diverse consumer society. Marketers must start to pay attention to the needs of these often hard to reach communities and this is where agencies with long-established relationships and a deep understanding of these communities’ needs will come to the forefront.
Saad Saraf is CEO of Media Reach
Media Reach is a fully integrated agency specialising in multicultural advertising, established 21 years ago. specialises is multi-cultural was established 21 years ago.

September 26, 2009

Target The Growing Multicultural Market in the UK

If there was a challenge to marketing directors, agencies, government departments and the creative industry today is how to engage this ever increasing diverse multi cultural society of ours.

With the minority ethnic population figures growing to 12% nationally, the picture in certain metropoles such as London, Leicester the ethnic communities are more than a third of the population as a whole.

So why do we need to look at this niche market;

* Disposable income in excess of £90 Billion
* 40% of London population are from ethnic communities
* 320 languages are spoken in London
* 1/3 of businesses in London are owned and run by ethnic
* The food sector is dominated by ethnic food and restaurants
* Strong dependence on own media (TV, Radio, Press, Digital & Cinema)
* Multicultural marketing is good for companies in the UK and abroad
* More than 2 million Eastern European have come to the UK over the past year
* The UK is destined to receive 1.2 million people from Bulgaria & Romania over the next 18 months
* The demography in London is changing beyond recognition and brands must change their tactics and marketing approach

The disposable income of the minority ethnic communities is put at £90 Billion Pounds and members of the community aspire to a better status and to the ownership of luxury brands (Cars, Electronic Consumables, Watches, large Property)

Minority ethnic people are loyal to their roots and cultural heritage. They love their food, music, films and television.
(Asian cinema halls are seeing a revival with gate receipts overtaking that of mainstream cinema complexes).

The basic rule therefore is to understand this diverse multicultural audience and to address their needs and market to them but above all we need to listen to what they want to see , view and hear rather than imposing our thoughts on them which has resulted in driving them away from mainstream art and culture.

People of ethnic background are aspirational and value education and status highly, they seek careers such as Doctor, Pharmacist, IT professionals, Banking and Management.
More than 50% of the population are under 25 years old (a youthful audiences)

Most of the people from the ethnic origins are religiously sensitive and culturally conscious. Therefore, they react/ respond differently to generic communication messages. But they do have needs and requirements: to get them interested we need to understand and appreciate their culture and traditions in our work/drives.

Conventional and traditional communication channels are not enough to capture “ Hard to Reach Communities”. Other marketing communication means such as outreach need to be utilized.

I am intrigued to see ethnic events such as Mela’s, Carinvals, fashion events, Music are able to attract tens of thousands of people ready to spend and to be entertained, in fact some of these events attracts hundreds of thousands of minority ethnic audiences while mainstream art establishments fails to draw a handful of people.

So what are you doing wrong?

Above all what seems to be lacking is an understanding of the audiences, most marketers I have spoken to, can not tell were a typical minority ethnic person in streets come from , what languages do they speak and what religious background they belong to. Some confessed that every Black person they describe as Caribbean and every brown as an Asian.

I am also bemused as to the insensitivity of some of commissioners and marketers to our needs and requirements. I find myself strangely enough drawn to the Arabic media and television more than the usual bland 5 channels I am offered and being forced to pay even when I spend very little time watching them.

I tend to find the editorial content does not cater for and represent me and at times offends my culture and traditions.(sometimes I must admit I never thought I will do shield my children from such content).

In today’s fragmented and increasingly turbulent markets, ethnic marketing offers a new strategic focus for product/market development and, in many respects, companies which ignore this do so at their own competitive peril.

Companies wishing to do business with ethnic minority groups need to review the basic premises of their marketing plans to take account of the growing market pluralism and the multi-ethnic reality of modern Britain.

This presents a tricky challenge to marketers, as marketing to them is not as simple as it would seem. The ethnic population in Britain is very diverse, not only in the different nationalities and races they represent, but also in terms of culture, attitude, lifestyle, behaviour.

Therefore, they respond to marketing / communication messages very differently from the mainstream. What works for the mainstream market doesn’t necessarily work for the ethnic consumer, as the triggers and hooks would be quite different. Not to mention the language barriers and difficulties that exist, especially within the early settlers and new immigrants.

The complexities are even more intriguing when you have to consider the differences that exist between each ethnic community, as they come from varying backgrounds. Cultural and religious sensitivities come into play, along with traditional values and beliefs, nationalistic feelings, political influences, and more. This makes the marketers role even tougher.

For instance, within South Asian communities, the disparity between Indians, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis is huge, despite the fact that they come from the same sub-continent.

There are differences in language, religion, food habits, festivals, attire etc. On the other hand, similarities exist in the way they live, where the family is the most important social unit, the concept of large joint family where grandparents, parents, brothers, children all live together as opposed to the westernized nuclear family system.

Within South Asian, Afro-Caribbean and Chinese communities, community networks are very strong, and community leaders as well as religious leaders play an important and influential role in opinion forming and changing behaviour.

Due to the language barriers, especially amongst women, older generations and certain new immigrants, these community tend to rely on their own media / ethnic media channels and community networks for information and entertainment, which is evident from the plethora of ethnic TV stations, radio stations and print publications that have burgeoned over the last 10 years in Britain.

Mainstream clients most of the time seem to be obsessed with ticking boxes and paying lip service when it comes to targeting our communities properly. This lack of attention is being picked up be members of the minority ethnic communities who are reciprocating in kind by not reacting to the clients inadequate communications.

Mainstream media under delivers, due to high dependence on ethnic media among the first and second generations. The irrelevance of programs offered by terrestrial television have further pushed the ethnic audiences away.

These reasons has driven audiences to migrate from mainstream media to the ethnic ones which are witnessing a boom.

Saad Saraf
Media Reach Advertising

September 24, 2009

UK Creative Industries – a white wash!

I went to Iraq for the opportunity of winning a communications contract. I knew there had been uproar that American companies had won majority of the construction contracts in Iraq following the war. Out of those that lost out, I did wonder, how many of them stopped to realise the real reason for this. What I observed was that the American government had recognised the need to have key personal that were representative of the Iraqi market. They sent over American Iraqis, who understood not only the work that needed to be carried out but also the culture. They realised the need and the advantage of having representatives with localised understanding in a global market place and have benefited from the strength of having a diverse workforce.

The same cannot be said for creative industries in the UK. The Creative Industries are a significant contributor to the UK economy – accounting for 7.9% of GDP, and growing significantly faster than the economy as a whole. UK creative industries deservedly enjoy a global reputation for excellence, creativity and innovation. British design, advertising, music and interactive leisure software companies are considered to be world-class. The question is, will it last?

Many people have spoken about how broadcasting is “hideously white, male and middle class”. This statement is also true for other sectors that fall under the creative industries banner. The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising’s report on Ethnic Diversity in the UK revealed, unsurprisingly, that ethnic minorities make up 4% of the advertising workforce – with most being positions of support services, such as IT and finance.

The UK creative industries workforce does not reflect the Ethnic diversity of the market they are targeting, largely due to the lack of realisation of the benefits diversity brings. There have been half-hearted attempts relating to recruiting a more ethnically diverse workforce, which can be summed up as reactive, knee-jerk reactions. It therefore comes as no surprise that the UK creative industries are facing a challenge from overseas. Countries such as America, India & China are continuing to enter this market and are meeting the needs of British consumers & businesses which UK based companies are overlooking. There needs to be a more strategic approach, which is not even existent on a government level.

So what should creative industries do to remain world class?
• Embrace multiculturalism by recruiting from a wider talent pool
• Engage, harness and train talent in the UK from Ethnic communities be that Indian or Polish
• Enjoy multiculturalism and highlight key role models from ethnic backgrounds

Today Bollywood is a multi-billion-pound industry outstripping Hollywood in ticket sales. Bollywood realised the marketing potential for their movies to both the British Asians and the wider UK community and stepped up their activity here in the UK. That’s not all, they have taken British born talent like, Upen Patel from Wembley and made him one of the top Bollywood stars and a household name in most Asian homes in the UK. Why then, can we not do the same? Why can’t we embrace, engage and enjoy the great pool of talent we have here, to achieve success both locally and globally!

And for those of you who are wondering what happened to the contract that my company went for in Iraq. Well I can tell you that, yes we won the account for our knowledge and experience but also for the fact that as a British Iraqi I had cultural understanding.

Saad Saraf, CEO, Media Reach Advertising

September 24, 2009

10 Steps you need to take before choosing an effective ethnic & multicultural advertising and communications agency.

1. Professional Competence
The agency must demonstrate high levels of professional competence in the eyes of their peers, clients and suppliers.

2. Professional Development
The agency is committed to the development of outstanding staff talent through qualifications, craft skills training and Continuous Professional Development (CPD).

3. Market Leaders
The agency should be a proven leaders and have comprehensive knowledge in the ethnic and multicultural market. Check the history of the agency and the campaign work they have done

4. Information and Intelligence
The agency should have access to data, statistics and case studies to share with the client. Look at their case studies and check the quality of their work

5. Accreditation
Check if agency is accredited by any professional advertising bodies. Accredited agencies receive expert advice to ensure their work is legally and regulatory compliant.

6. Research the Agency
Read about the agency and ask their clients for references

7. Proven Effectiveness
As a client you must insist on evaluation, ROI and value for money and check if agency have won any awards.

8. Chemistry
Meet the teams and look at the staff and agency capabilities

9. Financial Stability
The agency must demonstrate financial stability and it is the client duty to check their financial situation to ascertain their strength

10. ISBA Recommended
ISBA, the voice of British advertisers,recommends IPA member agencies

Saad Saraf
Media Reach Advertising