Marketers and agencies are 'lazy' on diversity - Scott Nowell

Arvind Hickman
By Arvind Hickman | 9 December 2016

One of the nation's leading creatives says Australian advertising lacks cultural diversity because marketers and ad agencies are often too lazy or safe to challenge the status quo.

Scott Nowell, co-founder and ECD of The Monkeys, believes the lack of diversity in advertising reflects a lack of diversity in the industry and within creative teams, where change needs to occur.

The Monkeys is no stranger to challenging the status quo and its latest work for Meat & Livestock Australia tackles diversity head on.

“I think we are lazy, we're inactive in this country in our marketing (to different cultures). People don't ask 'can we be more diverse?'. If you do ask that question the answer is invariably 'yes',” he said in a panel discussion at the Australian Multicultural Marketing Awards (AMMAs).

“We can talk about comms all we want but until we change our industries and have the kind of diverse range of employees and people driving our industries, things won't change.

“In an ideal world you are hiring brains whatever vessel brings them in, but we still need to be active in changing what is a largely white industry and perceptions of the industry. You've got to change from within."

Nowell describes Australia's multicultural society as “an absolute gift” that marketers do not exploit.

“As marketers, we're still very much steady as you go in a lot of areas,” he added.

The panel, which also included Virgin Australia's head of people and culture Geraldine Chin Moody, SBS director of media sales Andrew Cook and Mumbrella editor Tim Burrowes, was asked whether culturally-diverse marketing posed a risk to brands.

“For me the risk is ignoring it, because I don't think we can anymore. The other risk is if you're going to do it, don't use Google Translate. Get it done the right way,” Cook said.

Burrowes said that although improving diversity is the right thing to do, he doubts marketers will tackle the issue unless there is a business case to do so.

A recent Dentsu Mitchell study, Stop Saying 'Multi-Cultural'. It's 'Cultural Australia', attempts to place a monetary figure on the buying power of multicultural households. It noted that 28% of Australians are born overseas, 18% speak a language other than English at home and this group controls $96 billion, which is about 20% of household spending.

The research found several marked differences in the way Chinese-born viewers and Australians respond to ads, including a polarising effect when cultural stereotypes of both groups are used.

Meat and Livestock Australia's 'Bringing Everyone Together Over Lamb' ad, which was created by The Monkeys, celebrates Australia's cultural diversity to sell lamb. It won two awards at the AMMAs, including the coveted Peoples' Choice Award. Other winners on the night, included:

Communications – Meat & Livestock Australia, The Monkeys, UM, One Green Bean and Identity, “Bringing EVERYONE Together Over Lamb”
Public Sector – NSW Multicultural Health Communication Service and NSW Organ and Tissue Donation Service, “Life Giving Stories: ‘Storytellers on the Ultimate Gift of Life’ Multiplatform Strategy Organ Tissue Donation Multicultural Campaign
Big Business – Telstra, “’A place to belong/Indigenous Recruitment Campaign”
Small Business – Why Documentaries, “From Foe to Friends”
Business Diversity – Access Community Services, “#OurStories Campaign”
Arts and Culture  – Access Community Services for the Brisbane Multicultural Arts Centre
Sport – Cricket Australia, “A Sport for All – Cricket Campaigns”
Communities – SBS Radio, “SBS Arabic24”
Education – Western Sydney University, “Unlimited Campaign”
Youth – SBS Radio, “National Languages Competition”

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