P&G: If you aren’t doing multicultural marketing, you aren’t doing marketing

Cannes Lions 2018: Marc Pritchard believes the days of marketing to a general audience are over, and with people wanting to see themselves in ads brands will have to start representing their whole audience.

Procter & Gamble is pushing its work on improving diversity in the ad industry further as it looks to ensure that its company, supply chain and advertising more accurately portray the audience it serves.

At the Cannes in Colour event held by Spotify this week (19 June), Pritchard spoke passionately about why diversity matters to P&G, explaining that the FMCG giant sees it as a “force for good and a force for growth”. For example, if the gender and race pay gaps were eliminated, that would add $2.1tn in spending power to the global economy, which he argued would help all brands grow.

And, he added, at a time when brands are looking to push a more personalised message, not having a diverse range of people in advertising makes no sense.

“The days of general audience and general marketing are gone and that is a good thing. People want to see themselves, and to see brands with points of view – that is what is going to connect with people,” he said.

“If you are not doing multicultural marketing, particularly in a place like America, you’re not doing marketing.”

P&G has launched a number of initiatives in Cannes to improve the portrayal of people in its advertising by improving the diversity of its supply chain, with the hope this will lead to 100% accurate and positive portrayals of people in advertising and media.

The days of general audience and general marketing are gone. People want to see themselves, and to see brands with points of view – that is what is going to connect with people.

Marc Pritchard, P&G

The company highlights that just 32% of CMOs, 33% of chief creative officers and 10% of commercial directors are women, and this despite evidence from the Association of National Advertisers’ #SeeHer project that gender-equal ads perform 10% higher in trust and 26% higher in sales growth.

READ MORE: P&G’s Marc Pritchard on protecting brands against the threat of ‘mass disruption’

To improve those percentages, P&G is working with The Queen Collective, led by actress and singer Queen Latifah, to accelerate gender and racial equality behind the camera. The Queen Collective aims to distribute films produced by diverse female directors, and will look to fuel that pipeline through work with P&G as well as HP and Smirnoff.

P&G is also partnering with Katie Couric Media to create content that raises important issues, led by a female-driven team. And it has become the latest firm to join up with Free The Bid, which demands that brands include a female director on the shortlist for triple-bid commercial projects.

It is not just in its creative supply chain that P&G is taking action, it has also looked at its advertising. During the Cannes In Colour session, Pritchard spoke about its ‘The Talk’ campaign, which aimed to shine a light on the conversations black women are having with their daughters as they grow up in America.

Pritchard admitted the journey to be able to create that ad had taken 2.5 years as P&G looked to close the gap among its employees and offer unconscious bias training to its agencies. It also had to bring on external help to ensure it had the right point of view, working with Egami Consulting Group, a female-owned minority marketing firm.

Despite all the preparation, Pritchard said there was still a backlash against the ad, with some calling it out for race-baiting or attacking the police, and Pritchard “receiving some of the most hateful mail I have ever seen”.

“We had a call to make and we decided if not now, then when, and if not us, then who? And so we doubled down and went out and said this is about a conversation, because conversations lead to understanding; understanding leads to attitude change; attitude change leads to positive actions. Now we have at least a start.”

Read all  of Marketing Week’s Cannes Lions 2018 coverage, sponsored by MiQ, here.