Cultural Campaigning

Posted 29 September 2016.

​By Adelle Keely, Auckland General Manager Acumen Republic and member of CAANZ PREScom Committee.

​As part of its commitment to supporting greater diversity and inclusion in the industry, the Communications Agencies Association of New Zealand (CAANZ) established an Inclusiveness and Diversity Council in August this year. As part of this, CAANZ member, Adelle Keely, is canvassing the views of a range of marketing communications professionals.

Peter Jiang is the External Communications Manager at Coca-Cola Amatil and former director of Red & White, an ethnic marketing consultancy. He immigrated to New Zealand from China with his parents when he was five years old. Here, he shares his views on the issues and opportunities when communicating with diverse ethnic audiences.

Q. The growing ethnic diversity of our population represents an opportunity for marketing communications professionals and brands, particularly in Auckland where already almost 50 per cent of people identify as Māori, Asian or Pasifika. What’s your advice for those targeting Asian audiences?

A. The first thing is that Asians are not a homogenous group. The most recent census included about 17 sub-ethnicities, with the largest groups being Chinese, Indian, Filipino, Korean and Japanese. Within these there are different languages, cultures, religions and politics and these need to be understood.

Newer migrants are more likely to use ethnic media due to language barriers and because content is more customised to their needs, whereas migrants who have been in New Zealand longer are more likely to use mainstream media channels with a combination of ethnic social platforms, such as WeChat, to stay in touch with family overseas.

Q. Are there common mistakes that you see in campaigns targeted at Chinese consumers?

A. The primary mistake is lumping Asians into one big group. Language can be just as important as culture – simply translating your campaign into Chinese may not get you very far. An international example of where things got lost in translation was when Nike launched a pair of customised shoes around Chinese New Year, with a traditional Chinese character 發 (Fa: implies wealth) on one shoe, and 福 (Fu: fortune) on the other. But combining them to make “Fa Fu” means “getting fat” in Chinese. Not really on brand!

A local example was when my father saw an ad on Skykiwi, New Zealand’s biggest Chinese website, for a bank offering a great term deposit rate. He rang them, but there were no Chinese speakers to help him, so he got frustrated and hung up. Companies need to think through the path to purchase to ensure they are converting opportunities with ethnic customers effectively.

Q. How can agencies better attract employees from Asian backgrounds?

A. A strong sense of Confucian filial piety means Chinese children have utmost respect for their parents’ wishes. (Chinese parents can be quite strict!) Traditionally, there is more emphasis on professions like engineering, medicine, law and finance. Many of my Chinese friends and I studied a traditional profession (I studied law) before switching career paths into something we really wanted to do.

I often hear that agencies are cautious about hiring people with English as a second language, as understanding nuance and wordsmithing are much-needed skills.. [But] not all migrants are the same, some have been here much longer than others and this has a big impact on their ability to ‘get it’ and they communicate well in English. For many of us who grew up in New Zealand, English really isn’t a barrier – we understand the local culture and values and we bring a perspective that born and bred Kiwis don’t have and this can bring advantages.

Coca-Cola Amatil is one of the most inclusive and diverse companies I’ve ever seen, let alone worked for. Don’t let any prejudices stand in the way of giving migrants a chance. I believe that diversity and inclusion unleashes a much wider talent pool for more diverse thinking, greater innovation and improved decision-making – so there’s a lot to gain.