Association of National Advertisers takes 'AIMM' at diversity

The client group wants to ensure multicultural marketing is more than 'an afterthought'

On Columbus Day, the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) launched an effort to elevate the industry’s talk of diversity to the highest levels of corporate America.

The Alliance for Inclusive & Multicultural Marketing (AIMM) was designed to "create a united blueprint for the evolution of multicultural and diverse-segment marketing in America," according to a release. Although a year in the making, AIMM’s formation comes on the heels of announcements from Verizon, General Mills and Hewlett Packard that demanded their creative agencies diversify their workforces. The invitation-only (for now) group will invoke change in both workforces and agency-created ads by elevating the conversation and bringing it to the C-suite, according to AIMM board member and Dávila Multicultural Insights (DMI) Co-President Lisette Arsuaga.

"We need to put multicultural on the table at the highest ends of the companies, because right now, it is relegated to multicultural departments in corporations," Arsuaga said, "but CMOs and executives are not necessarily involved in multicultural."

Even marketers must sometimes be reminded to prioritize diversity when it comes to the work, she added. "If you have an effort that has to do with branding or strategy, multicultural then is an afterthought rather than being part of the strategy from inception."

AIMM is led by ANA President-CEO Bob Liodice and Michael Lacorazza, executive vice president of brand and advertising-integrated marketing at Wells Fargo. Board members include DMI Co-presidents Gilbert Dávila and Arsuaga as well as Carlos Santiago, president of Santiago Solutions Group. Each representative is strongly tasked with bringing a senior corporate executive to each meeting, so they’re not "just preaching to the choir," Arsuaga said.

"ANA will create a think tank that will lead an unprecedented evolution of multicultural marketing and diversity through its vision and leadership of an industry-wide coalition that will provide distinctive value added to the entire marketplace," Dávila added in a press release.

So far, a handful of brands have signed on including Coca-Cola, Anheuser-Busch, NBC Universal and Univision. Target 10, an LGBTQ-focused marketing agency, is also part of the group.

"[LGBT] is why we included the word ‘inclusive’ marketing in AIMM," Arsuaga said. "We don’t want this only to be about multicultural. Looking at people with disabilities, for example, is also something that we’d want to include. The way we look at multicultural now is different than when we looked at it five or 10 years ago, so the way we feel five years from now—or 10 years from now—there may be other groups that we’re not necessarily thinking about that need to be included and considered when creating marketing approaches."

AIMM will have the next 364 days to listen to its members and evaluate a game plan for 2018, when it will open its doors to any agencies and brands that want to prioritize diversity.

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