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Survey Aims To Improve Minority Ads

May 24, 1999

CINCINNATI (AP) _ There is money to be made in reaching minority consumers, and Procter & Gamble Co. and the advertising industry are trying to figure out how to make the connection.

P&G, which challenged advertising agencies last year to offer more effective Internet ads, wants the industry to show it can do a better job reaching minority customers. Managers at P&G, one of the nation’s biggest advertisers with annual spending estimated at more than $3 billion, think they are missing some potentially lucrative markets.

A survey sponsored by P&G and the Washington-based American Advertising Federation was mailed to advertisers, ad agencies and media companies this month. Responses were requested by mid-June. Marjorie Valin, spokeswoman for the advertising federation, said Monday it is the first survey she is aware of that aims to measure the ethnic and racial diversity of advertising industry workplaces along with the amount of advertising directed at minority groups.

Respondents are being asked about the diversity of their work forces, their hiring practices, their multicultural marketing efforts and their spending on ads targeted at ethnic audiences.

A committee headed by Robert Wehling, P&G’s global marketing officer, hopes to use the results as a basis to recommend strategies for improving multicultural advertising.

Reaching minority consumers requires more than simply using ethnic actors in commercials, said Donna Banks, vice president of Cincinnati-based Mycom Advertising, one of Cincinnati’s few minority-owned advertising agencies. The company develops ad campaigns that target ethnic markets for clients, including P&G.

``Companies are starting to realize that it is important to include different segments of the population into their marketing plans ... but a lot of people aren’t sure how to do it,″ Ms. Banks said. ``You have to do more than just run the same commercial you would for a white audience and put black people in it. When you’re trying to design ads specifically for an ethnic market, you have to understand that culture.″

Otherwise, she said, ``you may run the risk of even offending the consumers you’re trying to reach.″

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