By Gary Bonilla

If your brand has equity among a diversity group, you are primed for bigger success with the total market by enlisting them as your advocates in the digital space.

First, a few facts begin to point you in that direction:

Diversity groups fuel mobile growth.

Mobile web usage is higher among these groups.

Their discourse is emotional and colorful (vs. technical and cold). This is good. Social media, gaming and other digital platforms are passionate in nature.

The proposal brings together three ideas: (1) Diversity consumers are (2) effective advocates of your brand (3) in the digital space for the total market. This “converged” idea is much bigger than the sum of its parts. Let’s examine them.

Diversity is not about color, language or place of origin, but about culture defined in its broadest sense. So single moms are a diverse target, LGBT are certainly too, and so on. These are not separate neighborhoods. While digital consumers make cultural alliances for a strong show of force, there are no geographical boundaries in this space.

This new global melting pot is driven by Millennials with $1 trillion in spending power. Advertisers are shifting focus to mirror their behavior. Communicating with them is not effective unless a smart phone is involved.

Millennials are grown-ups already and multiculturally engaged by nature. In a recent New York Times story on immigration, Arizona college student Cathleen McCarthy said that “many older Americans feel threatened. … Young people today have simply been exposed to a more accepting worldview.”

Diversity influence on Millennials is felt and seen in numbers. According to a recent AOL study, 48% of Hispanic digital consumers are younger than 35 years old (vs. 28% for the general market). They engage in English, and are the power users of this universe, as they log on the most, and have more confidence in online product ratings and actively participate in the rating process. Buzzagent’s data adds that 1 digital word of mouth conversation equals 200 TV ads.

Advocacy can be achieved when the impact of your brand’s message grows exponentially thanks to strong voices of diversity consumers. It’s already happening.

Pepsi Refresh and its online community of do-good consumers came together to change the world and in the process truly rebranded the Pepsi for a new generation.

Then there was that whole gay men + Betty White + Facebook + top rated SNL + web congestion phenomenon.

Ten years after debut, Dora the Explorer keeps bringing Latino moms into a conversation that shapes the future of the global franchise.

Digital is not only a piece of the puzzle. It is the glue that brings it together.

The goal of aligning all your marketing and media efforts around digital strategies is to be highly efficient. Anecdotally we’ve seen how the sum of all parts works harder. However there is debate around “measurement.” In Ad Age Carlos Cata invites CMOs to to lead creative application of analytics to better understand success in consumers’ digital lives. Continued partnership with VCs in the technology space is also critical. Universal McCann recently announced a monitoring platform and shared case studies that link “word of mouth” activity to advertising.

New brands such as Rum Don Q are betting on getting big and global by linking social media efforts and magazine ad buys. Don Q site Lady Data surveys ladies on how men should behave. The data makes its way to the pages of Esquire through social media. This month Lady Data was the most viewed spirits site. Originally from Puerto Rico, Don Q has a strong Hispanic fan base. Their efforts include Foursquare geo targeting hopefully tapping into their loving Latino fans as advocates for all men.

This new model is a generous global platform for highly efficient local executions. It guides thinking about strategies for brand influencers as a way to move faster in times of market velocity and shortened spans of attention. At the execution level, it brings your specialized talent together seamlessly.

Shake up the pieces at the top. Bring down the walls of niche, diversity, digital, media, and other units. Look at how P&G is embedding diversity experts as total strategy thinkers in its global business units.

When the pieces come together again, some won’t fit. You’ll be left with experts who guide culturally sensitive global solutions. Tap your very successful niche-marketing guru as total market champion. Heineken did that by promoting its Hispanic brand manager to national director for two new imported brands.

Let others watch as you put the puzzle back together again. Walmart expects its partners to champion diversity and sustainable initiatives with the right products. So they actively train them how.

Consumers are collaborating and influencing each other, so should we.


A Saatchi and Grey alumnus, Gary Bonilla has been solving consumer and brand puzzles all his professional life — since his beginnings as an investigative reporter on TV to his most recent global assignment as head of creative strategy for Nickelodeon.

Story reprinted from by permission of the author.

One thought on “Make Diversity and Digital Winning Parts of Your Overall Strategy”
  1. Gary,
    Great article. On regards of Millennials and diversity, there’s a sentence from a NYTimes article–Iguess it’s the same one you quoted–that I really like: “Forget sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll; immigration is a new generational fault line.”

    I think this sums up everything and explains many things that our country is experiencing; from the election of a Multicultural President, to the different POV on Immigration.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *