Jeffrey Bowman on Demographics Diversity and Reaching Customers

Thumbnail image for Connecting with Bill Sobel

You don't have to look far to realize the US has changed — and we're not talking about social and mobile. We're talking something far more basic … specifically, the people behind all those emerging technology trends.

There's more diversity than ever before, US Census data confirms. In fact, during the next five years, 80 percent of the country’s growth will come from multicultural and under-served audiences. 

So how can marketers and advertisers reach this changing population? 

Ask Jeffrey L. Bowman. Bowman is a senior partner and managing director at Ogilvy & Mather, an international advertising, marketing and public relations agency based in Manhattan. He's also the founder and chairman of the Cross Cultural Marketing & Communications Association (The CCMCA).

Reaching the Full Marketplace


Bowman is one of the pioneers of the Total Market Industry Vertical and chief architect of the Cross Cultural and Total Market Enterprise (TME) model. Developed in partnership with the chairman and CEO of Ogilvy & Mather North America and the Chief Diversity Officer of Ogilvy & Mather North America, this Total Market communications model serves as a bridge between the general market and multicultural marketing communications models. 

Launched in September 2013, the CCMCA provides TME and cross-cultural marketplace awareness, training, education and certification for brands, enterprise organizations, government and educational institutions.

Bowman will be presenting the opening keynote Thursday morning at the Cynopsis Future TV Summit at the Grand Hyatt in New York City. He'll discuss how companies and brands can embed a multi-cultural perspective into all of their marketing efforts and explain what the demographic shifts mean for the market.

Bowman sat down with CMSWire in advance of the summit to discuss his career, his ideas and the ways brands need to adapt to stay relevant to changing populations.

Sobel: Tell us about the journey from your early years that included stints at Miller Brewing, Sears and the Pepsi-Cola Co. to your work as a thought leader at Ogilvy & Mather.

Bowman: I began my journey from the back of a Pepsi-Cola truck in Knoxville, Tenn. It was through a leadership development program Pepsi used to create a more diverse and inclusive organization. More than 20 years later, it’s paid off and today I’m helping to shape the marketing and communications industry.

From day one at Pepsi I always had an advantage as a marketer over my “general market” peers. For example, in 1993, Pepsi launched new age beverages (water, teas, juices and isotonics). I not only knew how to position and sell the beverages with retailers who primarily served general market consumer, I also knew how to position and sell products with retailers who primarily serviced multicultural customers.

I later learned about the discipline of marketing and the tools associated with the discipline of marketing at MillerCoors, where I worked after graduating form business school. MillerCoors, was one of the first marketers to take dedicated black dollars out of its marketing budget and reallocate the dollars for US Hispanic market, specifically to help us win in Texas, California and Florida. This act sparked my curiosity about why brands generally only invest in one of three minority groups at a time. Somehow that did not seem right.

I then got distracted with learning more about corporate strategy and brand management at Whirlpool, moved to Austin, Texas to work at Dell and learned how to market via digital, social, mobile using big data and measurement. I traveled back and forth between Austin and Chicago to run marketing planning and effectiveness for Sears's soft goods. In 2008, I started in the Consulting Practice at Ogilvy & Mather. I spent two years within Ogilvy Consulting developing marketing and business strategy and marketing effectiveness for large global brands.

In 2009, after being approached by the CEO of Ogilvy North America and CDO of Ogilvy North America about helping the Agency be relevant for the next 50 years, I partnered with our Employee Resource Group leads to write the business case for a Cross-Cultural Practice. We launched the practice in November 2010. Five years later we’ve pioneer the cross-cultural discipline and now can present evidence on business impact.

It took me more than 12 years for the opportunity to answer my buzzing curiosity about why the general market and multicultural marketing models exist when the marketplace has changed (minority becoming the majority) and technology is accelerating marketplace transformation.

General market and multicultural both started at the beginning of the TV era in the 1950s and the US was just forming demographically. Flash forward to 2010 and we still were using these models when we are at the beginning of the digital era.

Why not innovate and introduce new language like the cross-cultural marketplace discipline as well as a new industry vertical called Total Market? We have a very different America now. The current business models do not apply to the marketplace. I am a marketer in a multicultural world. I am not only a multicultural marketer. My mission is to help brands and our industry make the transformation.

Sobel: You're considered the pioneer and chief architect of the emerging Total Market business vertical and your keynote at the upcoming Cynopsis Future TV Summit and your presentation will be focused on what “Total Market” means for brands & advertisers. Can you explain what you mean by Total Market?

Bowman: Within the industry there is a ton of debate about the meaning of Total Market. The interesting observation is that in 2010, when we launched the Cross-Cultural Practice at the ANA Multicultural Conference, no one in our industry had heard of cross-cultural. The term has been in existence since 1930 and is practiced within the social sciences and language practice.

Within the US in the 1950s and 1960s the designations of majority and minority were invented. Horizontal products and services were established based on ethnic designation and needs. (i.e. multicultural talent, Hispanic talent, general market research). In 2014, for the first time and moving forward, what was once consider “minority” babies are now the majority of births. This begs the question about businesses and whether they are they structured to service the needs of the new majority. Like to old majority, do we use the same business and services models for the New Majority?

I define Total Market as a new industry vertical and not a supplement for multicultural marketing. Too many barriers are associated with the general market and multicultural marketing industry verticals. For instance organizationally we need to make every marketer address the needs of a multicultural marketplace versus a niche department with under vested resources. This does not mean multicultural and minority-owned business disappears but used more effectively.

Last, if you remember my example about MillerCoors, we have the ability even more so today to market to the Total Market, reallocate investments and address each segment through the use of technology and one-to-one marketing.

Sobel: I’m interested in understanding the value of cross-cultural marketing in comparison to traditional advertising as it was performed by David Ogilvy, the founder of your agency and an advertising executive who was widely hailed as the Father of Advertising.

Bowman: At Ogilvy & Mather there is a responsibility to carry when you enter the doors. The Agency is a “Thinking Man and Woman” agency. Thought leadership is one of the pillars at the agency and highly encouraged. David Ogilvy pioneered television advertising in the 1950’s and he continued to evolve with leading what is now known as direct marketing and the introduction of OgilvyOne. We were one of the first agency’s to launch the digital topic with the Verge Digital Conference in 2004.

Pioneering the cross-cultural approach and forming the practice in 2010 is another example of helping to evolve the industry. Given the shift in the marketplace how could a “general market” agency be relevant and fulfill client briefs within addressing the needs of the Total Market. It is not different than launching OgilvyOne at the time for one-to-one marketing and launching Verge when digital marketing was emerging.

The value with cross-cultural marketing is that you are able to develop a communications platform that’s inclusive of the both general market and multicultural insights. The only way to get to a platform that’s relevant is by understanding each value segment. What this does not mean is stop at the communications platform. It also enables you to speak one-to-one with each segment in a nuanced way. You may not of been able to discover if you only understood general market or multicultural insights. You are able to properly invest based on value, not just language as the differentiator.

Sobel: Tell us about the CCMCA, and some of your plans and strategies for your members and for the industry in general.

Bowman: We are still in the start-up phase but we are growing everyday. We have members from across industry verticals from consumer-packaged goods and financial service brands to agencies to government and education institutions. Their professional levels range from directors to president of their organization.

August, at our 2nd Annual Total Market Summit and Awards Event, we launched our new brand and now The CCMCA sits within REFRAME: The Brand. What we heard from our partners and members was the need for a more meaningful name that fits our mission and a call to action. We have a base membership level and you can join for free. This was a major milestone. REFRAME: The Brand is in the business of executive education and helping brands make the Total Market Enterprise transformation. At the Total Market Summit we introduced our Total Market Enterprise assessment tool and in 2015 we will release version 1.0 of the collaborative learning tool for enterprise organizations. We’ve listened to our members and want to continue to add value. We are excited about 2015. 

Sobel: You were quoted in the New York Times in 2013 saying, ““The industry says you have to be in the general market box or in the multicultural marketing box,” and “cross­cultural is inclusive of both boxes.” Can you talk a bit about that and, most importantly, how are clients responding and can you give some examples?

Bowman: I think as an industry we are in the very beginning stages of the Total Market Industry Vertical. Think more like when we went from radio to TV and TV to Cable TV to Digital TV. There was new language, philosophical differences and eventually the category matured and differences were resolved.

At this very moment most brands are confused. We have advisors and thought leaders speaking at conferences and on panels talking about the approach with never having done the approach via a client engagement. Imagine being at a medical conference and a doctor is on the panel discussing a new approach and never performed the new surgical procedure. It would never happen in the medical industry. Somehow we’ve allowed this to happen at marketing and advertising conferences about the topics of cross-cultural and total market.

Within the general market vertical (an industry designation) most agencies use attitude and behavior tools to under insights, develop ideas and content. Most of the research tools are general market tools and do not have the right sample size or under sample for multicultural segments.

Within the multicultural market vertical (a second industry designation), the research tools are ethnic based and in most cases does not account for the “general” market segments. One could say, both are not the most effective way to develop a platform and tell the most relevant stories for consumers. Often multicultural agencies are not properly funded for research and/or brands do not have the best data for multicultural consumers.

With the cross-cultural discipline within the Total Market industry vertical (a third industry designation) it’s the best of both worlds. Because you’ve made the segment value business case up-front for all segments, you now have the proper investment for insight development. You research and use both general market and multicultural segments to understand their commonalities as well as their differences. Because you have the commonalities, your “National” execution is more relevant because it incorporates all segments. For regional/local efforts or through technology you now have relevant insights to a geography that may over-index women, Hispanic, black, Asian or LGBT.

Sobel: Finally, do you have any suggestions for marketers who want to better understand the bridge from general market and multicultural marketing communications approaches and how they can work with both colleagues, vendors and most importantly clients?

Bowman: Over the past two years I’ve seen major brands attempt to go through this transformation alone. This is not only a marketing outcome but also an enterprise outcome. From the C-suite to finance to human resources to research to IT and marketing, everyone is impacted. It requires enterprise transformation and less about casting diverse talent for advertising

You need an experienced advisor(s) and this requires enterprise education. Use REFRAME: The Brand as a resource and beginning in 2015 we will have an enterprise assessment along with an education platform to help with brands and businesses.