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'Adverts failing to encash ethnic potential'

A study has said that despite a combined disposable wealth of #32 billion, ethnic minorities are not being marketed by business.

india Updated: Oct 17, 2003 16:30 IST
Nabanita Sircar
Nabanita Sircar

Advertising agencies are known to be cool places to work in and adverts are said to be portarying changing trends. But while that is so, it has been well-known that the advertising companies in the UK are still very White. A new report now shows that advertisers are failing to target ethnic minority communities and missing out on the opportunities of the "brown pound".

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A study by the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) has said that despite a combined disposable wealth of £32 billion, ethnic minorities are not being marketed by business. Only telecom giant BT, which has a large number of adverts with Asians including one with Suchitra Krishnamurthy in it, has been praised by the IPA for "the social mix of its potential customers" in its adverts.

The report has also said that ethnic minority communities tend to be younger and more "technically adept" than their white counterparts. Some 72 per cent of the UK south Asian community live in homes with cable or satellite TV, compared with only 39 per cent of the population as a whole; 74 per cent have a mobile phone compared with 69 per cent of the total population; and 57 per cent have internet access at home compared with 47 per cent of the UK. The economic success of Indians in the UK is a known fact.

Jonathan Mildenhall, co-chairman of the Ethnic Diversity Project, which looked into the issues behind the report, said: "Take away the football stars, the celebrities, the sportsmen and the amount of black faces you see in British advertising are few and far between.

"The economic contribution that ethnic minorities make to the UK's overall performance is huge. That said, few companies even consider the potential incremental value of bespoke marketing programmes targeting ethnic minorities.

"The advertising industry must take the lead here. We need to educate and advise our clients about the potential of all target groups."

The IPA has also called upon the advertising industry to make an effort to attract more ethnic minority employees. The report has found that only four per cent of marketing communications industry staff come from ethnic minorities, of which 70 per cent are in support disciplines such as IT and finance.

Co-author Anjna Raheja said: "In the same way as there is a pink pound and a grey pound there is, without doubt, a brown pound."

The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, has put together a programme of ethnic diversity initiatives which start this week. The aim is to increase the ethnic mix in advertising.

Advertisers are, however, slowly realising the importance of reflecting Britain's culture of diversity and the growing economic prowess of Asians. Apart from BT, Peugeot came up with a brilliant advert, set in India where a young man decides to remodel his old car into a Peugeot by bashing it up and having an elephant sit on it. The ad's creator - an Italian agency - turned what could have been patronising into a fresh, ingenious and memorable commercial.

Another advert by Halifax, which was shot in Hyderabad, with its cast doing a Bollywood song and dance routine and one by Walkers where Gary Lineker is an Indian groom, have become very popular.

First Published: Oct 08, 2003 19:51 IST