A New Multicultural Marketing “Agency” is Born

Ethnicity matters or at least it should to all Canadian marketers. The numbers speak for themselves:

Source: Statistics Canada

The numbers are staggering. It is no longer a question of targeting the ethnic minority. Ethnics have become the majority. If you look at the face of Canada, the multicultural market is now the mainstream. Multicultural Marketing is not just about doing the right thing, it is a business imperative. As newcomers arrive in Canada, they bring with them unique preferences that affect buyer behavior. Marketers need to pay close attention to these preferences. If they don't, chances are their competitors will or new businesses that better cater to ethnic needs will emerge.

It was about seven years ago when Howard Lichtman was serving as Virtual Chief Marketing Officer for the Ethnic Channels Group (Canada’s largest distributor of foreign language television channels). He couldn’t find an agency to develop a multicultural marketing plan for him, and with him. Sure there were ethnic advertising agencies, but most of them specialized in one specific ethnic group. As well, he wasn’t looking for just ethnic media buying, translations or creative. He was looking for multicultural strategy expertise across a number of ethnic communities. At his previous position as Executive Vice President of Marketing & Communications for Cineplex, he was used to a disciplined marketing approach. First you establish your goals. Then you “brain up” (this includes primary and secondary research). Next you glean insights from your “brain up” which leads to your strategy and recommended actions. It’s only when that process is completed, that you move to implementation and execution. Most of the agencies that he interviewed wanted to jump straight to execution.

His answer was to create a multicultural marketing “bible” for Ethnic Channels Group. This was a master blueprint as to how to market to Canada’s ethnic communities. The blueprint was then applied against a number of different ethnic communities, customizing the insights and strategy for each. The questions for each ethnic group were the same, but the answers varied dramatically.

It was at this time that he ran into Bobby Sahni, the Head of Multicultural Marketing at Rogers Communications. Howard was more than impressed with the depth and breadth of Bobby’s multicultural marketing knowledge and passion for diversity. He started referring to Bobby as his “Multicultural Guru”. He learned in talking to others that he wasn't the only one who turned to Bobby for multicultural marketing advice - he seemed to be the "Multicultural Guru" for many executives and organizations seeking guidance in driving new growth through multicultural marketing. Howard hadn’t, and hasn’t, met anyone else with Bobby’s knowledge and experience both as a traditional marketer and multicultural expert.

Seven years later, the need for multicultural marketing strategy has not diminished, it has only grown. Corporations may understand the need for ethnic community engagement but often do not have a starting point or expertise in getting it right the first time. Howard had been nudging Bobby to create his own company incessantly. Bobby finally decided to take the leap and ethnicity Multicultural Marketing Inc. was born.

ethnicity is more than just a traditional multicultural advertising "agency". ethnicity is structured under four divisions to provide an end-to-end solution for Canadian marketers:



ethnicity will serve Canadian marketers regardless of where they are on the multicultural marketing needs spectrum. Bobby and Howard have identified several starting points where Canadian marketers have needs:

Bobby, Howard and the team have been working hard, for the past 3 months, to get ready for the launch of the firm. They decided that is was appropriate to make the official launch date for ethnicity July 1, 2013 – saluting the fact that Canada truly is a multicultural mosaic and not a “melting pot” of cultures. What better day to launch a multicultural marketing firm than Canada’s birthday?

While they have been gearing up, word has leaked out and they have already been engaged by a number of leading Canadian and US corporations.

Stay tuned for some formal announcements shortly.