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The IZO Experience: Creative Direction in Productions for Multicultural Audiences

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Having good communication is a great responsibility, especially when it comes to communicating with a multicultural approach. It’s vital to ensure the majority are represented in marketing while educating, training, and bringing the audience closer to our clients who are committed to being inclusive.  

Having the humility to listen to the client, and the diverse and unique consumer, has been critical to the successful development of each project. Below is a practical guide to reaching a multicultural audience from a creative perspective. It includes a variety of methods based on documentation and some of our team’s experience over the years in this field.

1. Differentiation

It’s undeniable that content marketing is going through the rise of artificial intelligence with Chat GPT, Midjourney, and others. The elaboration of content is reaching massive numbers, but to be specific in terms of personalization, tone, expression, orality, and textuality, there still needs to be a cultural element present for each production. That means recurring to the people in the groups we are addressing the message to.

The human cultural characteristic can only be reproduced by these AI tools when this information is uploaded to the platform and typed by someone on another computer. A recent study by New York University has presented conclusions that reinforce this hypothesis. They concluded that infants may have better intuition or deduction about human actions than existing AI models.

“Adults and even infants can easily make reliable inferences about what drives other people’s actions,” explains Moira Dillon, an assistant professor at New York University’s Department of Psychology and senior author of the paper, which appears in the journal Cognition. “Current AI finds these inferences challenging to make.”

Creating an image and discourse for a multicultural audience is a task that has kept our team navigating through terms, skin tones, facial features, indigenous languages, minority groups, values, belief systems, excluded groups, and a background that continues to grow with each project. To reach creative differentiation in a multicultural audience, ask: Are the key groups present in my campaign, product, or production? Of course, this should be achieved without falling into stereotypes that may be perceived as offensive.

2. Inclusion

Listening to the client is the beginning of knowing who the discourse is aimed at. Many times, you have organizations and companies that want people represented graphically to look “more Latino.” But what does this mean in terms of aesthetics and marketing?

Orienting the aesthetics towards the generational audience to be reached can determine the campaign’s reach. How first and second-generation Latinos see the world can differ significantly. Besides, the market profile in each generation can vary drastically in lifestyle, purchasing power, values, and on a socioeconomic, educational, and sociocultural level. 

In this regard, Jorge Rodriguez, marketing director at IZO, provides some first-hand insight from his experience in the field. “Imagery is important. Many times it is difficult to find stock imagery that is reflective of the diversity of culture,” said Jorge. “When producing imagery for marketing creative, using imagery that reflects the diversity of the community and finding diverse talent can sometimes be a challenge. We take our time to recruit and hire diverse talent for projects. For many, this is the first time the talent is working with an agency and so taking the time to get to know them, describing to them what to expect, and helping them through the process helps in building trust.”

That’s why creating from different perspectives deserves a targeted experience, ideally from those who belong to these target audiences, to create a channel and a message that is honest, authentic, clear, and connects with people’s emotions. That’s how you make them feel included.

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3. Allusion

It’s important to know some context-setting numbers. For example, according to Microsoft Advertising, “70% of Generation Z consumers are more trusting of brands that represent diversity in ads. Meanwhile, 61% of Americans consider diversity in advertising important, and 38% of consumers overall trust brands that represent diversity more.” 

As we can see, diversity is an area full of goodness regarding consumer trust and values. But creating empathy and allusion through an image must be a technique that connects with the real world in situational scenes of daily life in certain groups. For example, it’s culturally appropriate to associate family events of first-generation Hispanics with colorful scenarios surrounding activities in the kitchen and sharing food. That’s part of daily life for multigenerational households, among other contextual conditions that match the audience at first glance without words. We should know how our target audience lives.

4. Collaboration

The old saying “two heads are better than one” is often relevant. And in the case of creativity for multicultural audiences, the people associated with the idea or project also serve as a guide. They are often essential in constructing the discourse’s message and tone fundamentally because there may be barriers or details along the way that are only sometimes evident to everyone when creating. 

Jorge said, “Collaborate with different partners, organizations, and other agencies. Having that open, collaborative environment has been one of the best parts of working on creative projects with DEI at the center of it. Getting this right from the beginning really helps with everyone to feel comfortable to share their ideas and perspectives. For many teams working with us, it’s really their first time working in a creative process from concept to development to execution, that DEI is a part of it. And it’s ok! Part of this work is growth. That influences the output. It takes effort, time, and resources.”

5. Coherence

Is the product or service consistent with the target audience’s conditions, context, and values? When in doubt, it’s advisable to request the assistance of an agency or multicultural consultants in the early stages of the project to identify the creative future of the idea for other contexts and languages. Once the creative vision is established, the limitations of a translation and a socioeconomic context can be decisive. 

For example, in the early stages of the creative proposal in Spanish for vaccination programs, it was defined that for the Hispanic audience, we should avoid using the word “shot,” in its literal translation for creative ideas because it can have a violent connotation.

Based on Jorge’s experience, who has been directly involved in consulting and creative direction of projects, timing is key. “Being involved from the beginning of a project has produced some of the best results,” said Jorge. “When being added to the project once stories and production are locked in, it makes it a bit more challenging to create or transcreate messaging and creative in a way that is culturally relevant.”

Jorge also mentioned, “Some ideas and stories don’t carry over as well as one would think from one language or culture into another. Even within audiences, there are subcultures. Collaborating with multiple stakeholders or creative advisory boards has been amazing, and it really happens when different voices are heard. This helps create more culturally and relevant marketing creative.”

In conclusion, creating for multicultural audiences is a work of rebuilding a world where people can feel they belong without barriers—especially remembering diversity as a keyword and creative exercise to visually associate cultures, health conditions, races, ethnicities, and belief systems in authentic images. Yet not making anyone feel exposed but fully included.

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