Bob McNeil Shares Tips for Approaching Multicultural Advertising

Mar 23, 2023 9:34 AM ET

What brands need to know when trying to reach specific demographics from expert Bob McNeil.

ATLANTA, GEORGIA, March 21, 2023 — Advertising professional Bob McNeil has built a business and career helping brands connect with diverse audiences. As Chairman Emeritus of IMAGES, an Atlanta-based marketing firm sold to Dentsu International in 2015, he has helped various brands, ranging from Fortune 500 companies to small non-profits, experience advertising results in hard-to-reach markets. 

For McNeil, the journey has included educating a new generation of leaders in marketing and helping companies learn how to prioritize authentic voices over less meaningful forms of connecting with consumers. While the advertising landscape is ever-shifting and the platforms utilized to reach audiences transition, core principles hold true when building advertising to resonate with specific audiences.

Avoid segregating messages

A big problem businesses can face when developing promotional materials and even ad campaigns are creating variations on the same theme but with different demographics in mind. For example, a financial firm with an assortment of races as clients may rely on digital and printed brochures, mailers, and email marketing to promote new service offerings, Bob McNeil advises

Creating blended offerings that incorporate different cultures into a cohesive whole is important. What’s not advisable is creating separate ad campaigns and literature based on race and other demographical information. A black, Hispanic, and white version of the same publication does not serve any demographic well and segregates consumers based on race. Instead, the focus should be on incorporating imagery and messaging for each audience into the same offering by meeting their financial service needs.

When specific problems facing a community need to be addressed, such as the historical lack of access to preferred financing opportunities for minorities, it can also be done in a non-segregated way. This shows an understanding of real issues versus token acknowledgment.

Pitch employees and interview users, customers

Developing advertising materials focused on reaching a multicultural market for the first time can feel difficult, making it essential to rely on voices from various communities, Bob McNeil reports. He states it’s important to involve others in the decision-making process; they can even be employees at the company advertising. These individuals can best identify easy-to-spot missteps in proposals and guide decision-making. 

If employees are unavailable, utilizing an outside agency with a diverse team and interviewing product users or potential customers can also be helpful when finding a voice and developing first approaches to multicultural marketing. According to Bob McNeil, these approaches should consider the values of the target market to resonate. Continuing to solicit feedback is also important as cultural movements may quickly shift the dialogue for certain markets, making avoiding missteps crucial.

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