Jeffrey Bowman, who heads OgilvyCulture as its practice lead while also serving as director for marketing strategy at Ogilvy & Mather, is celebrating his first anniversary leading a team that’s making an impact on the global marketing and advertising industry, both internally and externally. “I am a big believer of advocating for access. Once you have access, you can have the ability to achieve your dream,” shares the Spartanburg, S.C. native. “I advocate for change for the new general market, which as I define it, is Hispanics, blacks, Asians, and the LGBT community becoming the majority within the U.S. population.”
For years, Ogilvy has been a pioneer in the communications space with broadcast, then digital and now cross-cultural communications. They started the diversity and inclusion conversation three years ago internally with John Seifert (chairman North America) and Donna Pedro (chief diversity officer). Last year was the launch of the OgilvyCULTURE advocating for shifting the general market and multicultural landscape to a new ideology: a cross-cultural communications platform addressing the needs of the total market. “We launched last July 18 and to date, we have had about six different client engagements and exceeding expectation. We are just starting down this humble journey,” he states.
This fall, Bowman’s team will publish the 2012 Cross Cultural Report, which is a report that lays out the business case as to why marketers and advertisers should make the shift. The Report also provides a point of view for addressing the communications gap based on five strategic territories for building brand value with the New General Market. He continues, “It’s demonstrative because there are many people who now say they have general market or multicultural marketing when the New General market have shared values and like to be spoken to in a relevant way based on the each of the segment nuances. The Industry is not properly set up to address the need of the marketplace. With our approach, we demonstrate how to address the market strategically and speak to consumers in a relevant way and deliver overall value for your brand in a much more cohesive and collective way.”
Here, Bowman talks about the pioneering success of Ogilvy and offers advice for college grads pursuing a career in marketing and advertising. –yvette caslin (Photo Credit: Jacques Cornell/Happening Photos)
How do you explain the difference between cross cultural and multi cultural?
We get that question a lot. Typically, when the question is raised people forget to add general market. Essentially, when we were evaluating the marketplace, the general and multicultural markets are integrally connected. There’s a shift in the marketplace: a new general market. The current general market and the multicultural advertising models don’t effectively service the “new general market,” with the former addressing only 70% of the U.S. population and the latter, 30% or 40% at its best. That is an ineffective and outdated model and we advocate the total market approach to service clients and provide insight. With the total market approach, you assess all of the different segments and identify the commonality and nuances. That’s the difference. When we look at the numbers, combined Hispanics, blacks, Asians and LGBT segments in the top 10 cities account for more than 51% of the population. In most cases, brand investments in media to reach the segments in the top 10 cities underinvest against the segments. But, it all starts with making the business case and developing the right strategy. This is the void our Cross-Cultural Practice fulfills for brands.
Why is it important for an organization like Ogilvy to be at the forefront?
The idea and notion first starts with the vision and talent at Ogilvy. About three years ago, John Seifert, our chairman, and Donna Pedro, our chief diversity officer, crafted a plan. We wanted to build an organization of the future and in order to do so, you have to have a diversity and inclusion environment. Second, it’s the value proposition. If you hire the world, you can service the world. That’s where the cross culture approach was birthed out of the diverse talent pool – positioning the agency for the next 50 years. Third, it’s partners. We are evaluating partnerships with audience experts and understand the New General Market. There are people who have been in this space a lot longer than we have. We are just starting to go down this path. In terms of forefront, we are very humble. When we talk about this space, if we didn’t make the shift, the agency would not be relevant in terms of the offerings, the product, the way we service our clients and innovation in the marketplace.
Provide some advice for recent college graduates who are interested in following your career path?
Don’t be afraid to start at the bottom of the career pole and climb your way up. If you look at my career, I started on the back of a Pepsi truck in Knoxville, Tenn., the summer of 1990. The teachings on the way up the career pole are invaluable. You will never be able to go back and get those years where you actually learn how to work. Be confident but humble. Have the ability to listen. Be hungry and have a thirst for curiosity. When I see someone who’s thirsty and passionate, it’s much easier to coach them for success. Develop etiquette skills and learn how to talk to people. Having the ability to hold a conversation enables you to build relationships. Last, don’t be afraid to take calculated risks. Oftentimes, there is no blueprint.
How does one use social media responsibly?
Understand that there is a reason they call it the world wide web. Openness is great but understand you are making history everyday. Now everyone’s words are recorded, saved and documented and that’s what social media channels allows us to do. Just be responsible and understand your audience is the world when you document something through social media channels.