HMC Marketer of the Year Fireside Chat

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Key Takeaways from Kellogg’s Award-Winning Multicultural Marketing Journey

Every year, the Hispanic Marketing Council’s Marketer of the Year Award shines a spotlight on companies that have a legacy of putting the Hispanic consumer at the heart of their marketing strategies and consistently create meaningful, impactful and relevant campaigns to connect with this growing segment. 

With a wide-ranging portfolio of beloved brands and an organization-wide commitment to multicultural marketing, Kellogg’s recently joined the shortlist of brands that have received this prestigious award. 

Julie Bowerman, Chief Marketing and Ecommerce Officer and Chelsea Jenkins, Director of Culture and Inclusive Marketing for Kellogg’s North America, recently shared some of the key learnings and milestones of Kellogg’s multicultural marketing journey with Captura Group’s President & General Manager Walter Boza at HCM’s 2022 Virtual Summit. Here are some of the main takeaways from the 2022 HCM’s Marketer of the Year fireside chat. 

The Role of Leadership and Enterprise-Wide Commitment

Kellogg’s strategic commitment to Hispanic marketing spans back almost a decade, evolving from a single multi-brand initiative to having multicultural initiatives across all of Kellogg’s brands. And while their marketing teams and partners continue to learn and gain momentum in this space, they recognize that a critical factor in their success has been the leadership’s top-down commitment to multicultural initiatives that trickle across the business. 

“[Leadership] sets the tone that leads the rest of our organization into this space of prioritizing and embedding ED&I [Equity, Diversity & Inclusion] to everything that we do. That is where the authenticity in truly championing these audiences comes through. A big part of that has been the creation of our Culture and Inclusive Marketing team and actually shifting our structure internally to make sure that this integrated team is working across the business and departments,” said Jenkins. 

Create a System for Continuous Learning

Kellogg’s efforts to continue to learn and evolve its multicultural marketing initiatives include the creation of an accelerator around cultural intelligence, which provides a deep dive into the culture and helps the organization develop deep empathy and awareness to build its multicultural proficiency. 

“Educating on who are these consumers that we’re looking to serve, who makes up our Hispanic audience who we’re really trying to drive these meaningful connections with, what are their motivations, barriers and challenges, the way they move about the world, the way that they shop and interact with our foods. That was a great foundation to then build upon and actually create plans to make sure they’re coming through very authentically,” explained Jenkins. 

Engage Internal Stakeholders 

This continuous learning practice was further supported by the creation of Business Employee Resource Groups (BERG), as well as Kellogg’s ED&I Steering Committee, a centralized council group with representation from several leaders, partners, and other stakeholders from across the business that comes together once a month to show visibility into ED&I efforts, keep teams attuned their changing markets, and help them gain critical insights for the business. 

For example, “we have ¡HOLA! which is our Hispanic resource group. They’re always sharing priorities, events, and cultural moments that we should be leaning into, but also providing feedback for us, which is great. It’s a space for us to learn, have really candid conversations, know what’s going on in the industry, and keep a pulse on forward-looking trends,” said Jenkins.

Built-in, Not Bolted-on: Multicultural Integration Throughout the Planning Process

One of the approaches Kellogg’s has taken is to embed a multicultural perspective as early as possible in the planning processes, which includes key questions to trigger the teams to be thinking multicultural and Hispanic at the very onset of a project or initiative.

“It all comes down to the insights and making sure that those are baked in upfront and throughout the process, to know what those barriers are. You can have the best creative in the world, you might be getting that exposure to the creative, but you might not necessarily get the engagement or get them to actually purchase or understand how that fits into their life,” said Jenkins.

They also leverage insights from external and internal partners who help gain a deeper understanding of target audiences. As Bowerman explains, “we have great partners like Captura who sit at the table from the onset of the briefing process, and they become the voice of the Hispanic consumer. They make sure to keep us in check, they hold us accountable throughout the briefing, the creative design, and the execution process to make sure that we’re appealing and relevant to the Hispanic consumer all the way through, from strategy to execution. Those capabilities, embedded in the way we’re working, have been critical, versus trying to do it aside from it. That’s helped us make much faster progress.” 

A Delicate Balance: Effectiveness AND Efficiency

Kellogg’s has developed an approach of depth and breadth to how they think about the balance between effectiveness and efficiency. This allows their budgets to travel further and be more impactful while seizing distinct opportunities within diverse markets and consumers. 

“We have to think about it more in terms of breadth: where is the opportunity to be inclusive at the breadth programs or campaigns, so that they are inclusive to a Hispanic consumer but also appeal to gen pop. Everything from casting, to props, to location shooting really matters in that breadth campaign to make sure we’re inclusive; but we then marry that with depth. We think about a very deliberate approach to targeting and key markets that are going to be important for the Hispanic consumer and then we adapt the creative or the campaign and we do a much more targeted deep strategy across all types of media and communications at the market level,” said Bowerman.

The Value of Testing for Cultural Impact

Kellogg’s has been a champion of the Cultural Insights Impact Measure (CIIM), a tool developed by the Alliance for Inclusive and Multicultural Marketing (AIMM) which pressure tests creative content to determine if it is connecting on a cultural level with a particular audience. Pre and post-testing has become a standard practice to ensure teams are collecting feedback upfront and validating after the fact whether it was something that really helps celebrate the culture and engage the audience authentically. 

Jenkins explains how teams have been able to leverage this tool: “[CIIM] has been a fantastic addition for us. We’ve actually embedded it into our ICP process as one of our key multicultural checkpoints. We know that there is a direct link from the cultural relevance and the feedback we get from our CIIM results and the sales lift. That’s where the pretesting definitely helps so that we can make any shifts that are needed and infuse those in the entire process. There are different things that we know that resonate a little bit more: are we driving cultural pride for Hispanics? Are we celebrating a cultural element in their life? And we can incorporate those learnings.”

Cultural Insights Fuel More than Advertising

When asked about ways to leverage cultural insights beyond advertising (for instance, in the actual food formats and packaging for the various Kellogg’s brands), Bowerman cited a recent Pop-Tarts Día de Muertos campaign that not only resonated deeply with the Hispanic audience but achieved bottom-line results with a 70% growth in sales lift: 

“[Día de Muertos] is a really important celebration for the Hispanic consumer, and so this is a good example where we did adapt and look at effectiveness as a more important tool than efficiency. From the flavor profile to the design of the box and the communication we used, we wanted to make sure we were very authentic in the way we celebrated this tradition. We also partnered with the National Association of Latino Arts (NALA) and we married it with a giveback program where we designed art grants across key Hispanic markets and gave back to the community and to youth to be able to celebrate art as part of their culture.”

Jenkins also reflects on this telling case study of how any attempt to connect with audiences through culture benefits from an authentic ED&I perspective:

“I do love this example because it shows how you can thread ED&I and these insights throughout innovation, packaging, and then leveraging our BERGs as well. When you’re doing campaigns where it is so important to have those BERGs and the purpose piece at the center of it and remember that you’re truly celebrating this important part of culture and reflect on how you are adding to it, for instance with this partnership with the NALA that lets us continue that celebration and add to it in some way beyond the food offerings.”

Walk the Walk and Talk the Talk: Diversity and Inclusion Within the Organization

Although most of the conversation focused on multicultural marketing, both Bowerman and Jenkins recognized that diversity and inclusion reach further than that at Kellogg’s. It is a strategic pillar in the company’s overall growth strategy and is embedded in the company’s values. “We’re committed to having 25% of our employee population be of diverse representation, and that’s not just to beat our chest externally, it’s a belief the company has: diversity makes us better not only in business performance but also in terms of culture and a great place to work. This makes all the things we’ve talked about so far work as well as they have because we have this support system that sits around us to enable it,” said Bowerman. 

Kellogg’s commitment to diversity and inclusion also goes beyond the organization: the company strives to create an entire ecosystem that elevates and prioritizes ED&I, extending it to its partnerships and the industry at large. “All our agencies have really leaned in to make sure they’ve met the same standards that we’ve set around talent and making sure that they’re participating and adding to the community externally as well, building up their own capabilities around creative and insights that can lend to multicultural,” added Jenkins. 

To see the full interview of this year’s Marketer of the Year, check out the video here. 

A genuine admirer of the power of open, imaginative and empathetic communication and a crafter of stories that really matter to people, Alvaro conveys his passion for language through is work as a creative copywriter, editor and translator.

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