Shuffling towards the new diversity

Canada's telecommunications companies, its airlines and its financial services companies have been marketing to Canada's ethnic communities for years. For them, the decision to tailor their communications to various cultural groups - particularly well-to-do Chinese immigrants from Hong Kong - was...

Canada’s telecommunications companies, its airlines and its financial services companies have been marketing to Canada’s ethnic communities for years. For them, the decision to tailor their communications to various cultural groups – particularly well-to-do Chinese immigrants from Hong Kong – was a no-brainer. After all, most newcomers need to phone home, fly home and put their money somewhere other than under the mattress. But what of Canadian marketers in other segments? What have they been doing to capitalize on Canada’s cultural mosaic? We asked Wendy Cuthbert to find out.

Zellers

At long last recognizing the ethnic diversity of its shoppers, Toronto-based Zellers will, this spring, test Canada’s multicultural marketing waters for the first time. ‘I’ve been building a file for the past six months,’ says Julian O’Connell, director of marketing for the 339-store retail chain.

Although Zellers’ plans have not been finalized, O’Connell says the company is planning a tactical effort using radio, TV and print. And while nothing is set in stone, Cantonese, Mandarin, Pakistani, Portuguese and Italian are among the languages being considered.

‘This is a first for us,’ says O’Connell, who has been with Zellers for 16 years. If the upcoming campaign succeeds, he says, the company will be quick to move to the next level, creating brand-building advertising for the different markets.

Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz Canada has been involved in multicultural marketing for about eight years, according to Joanne Caza, the Toronto-based company’s director of marketing. As a luxury car maker, Mercedes recognizes the importance of reaching the financially secure and premium product-loving Chinese market, she says. To that end, the company commits itself to a 52-week media plan, advertising mostly in Chinese newspapers such as Ming Pao.

Rather than create original advertising for the market, Caza says the company ‘transcreates’ spots, as they do with those targeting Canada’s French community. It involves more than simple translation, she says, taking into consideration cultural colloquialisms and sensitivities.

‘It’s not as easy as people may think.’

Adidas Canada

Adidas generally relies on the universal language of inspiration to reach its audience, according to Maria Visocchi, marketing manager. However, its involvement in soccer – Adidas sponsors the Canadian Soccer Association and has committed to the World Cup in 2002 – does help it to target a multicultural audience.

Visocchi says that the cost of targeting each ethnic group in a market the size of Canada would be prohibitively expensive. In the U.S., however, the Spanish market is large enough to warrant customized efforts.

Also in this report:

- Many not putting theory into practice: Big-name clients support multicultural marketing in theory, but are reluctant to assign the dollars p.B2

- Casino Rama adds games, food for Asian clientele p.B4

- Panasonic taps into Chinese community: Since many of its products are suited to that market, the company solicited original creative p.B5

- Asian routes lead Air Canada to Asian ads: When the airline debuted Hong Kong flights, communicating in Cantonese made good business sense p.B6

- Bell Mobility targets key Chinese market: Community ‘an active and growing segment’ for the wireless service provider p.B7

- Ethnic marketing just good business for HSBC Bank p.B7