Mr Manish Tiwari, MD of London’s leading multi-cultural media agency Here & Now 365 and an expert on ethnic demography of Britain, comments on former Race and Equality Commissioner Trevor Phillip’s Channel 4 documentary What British Muslims really think?
All wars are cultural….
Gregory David Roberts
With great anticipation I switched on the TV to watch the former Race and Equality Commissioner Trevor Phillip’s much publicised take on the cultural divide in Great Britain and by the end of it, contrary to what Phillips was found quoting earlier ‘Our findings will shock many people’ , the program didn’t reveal anything which is not often quoted in tabloids and only meekly admitted the apprehensions of a growing cultural divide.
Working in an industry which subscribes to the cultural divide in Britain and generates revenue from Britain’s migrant communities (and that number is at least 15% of Great Britain’s population) I am among the rare few who take pains to watch everything which is on channels with programming created out of the Indian subcontinent, West Africa and other parts of the globe including China and Middle East as SKY makes its offering more and more multicultural.
The interesting thing is that you get a pulse of what this so called cultural divide is and of-course there is the age old religious divide and the divide of race and politics but there are similarities and as an advertising professional my job is to often find and ride on those moments of truth whether selling products or companies or concepts and ideas.
It is these nuances, which we as a multicultural agency focus on, which allows us to communicate to this niche audience thereby bridging the divide between mainstream companies and ethnic communities. For example at a time where supermarket price wars are at its peak – the big four supermarkets realised the potential of the ethnic audience. Partnering with Asda for the last three years we brought them closer to the Eastern European, Caribbean, African and South Asian communities in the UK by channelising their communication through media which caters specifically to them and messaging which resonates with their culture and language. Understanding each communities culture and diversity plays such an important role – it makes them feel wanted and the brand a part of the community. So, essentially while most agencies give brands a voice, myself and my team create bespoke communications for the communities – give the communities a voice.
When the NHS wanted to reach out to the African and South Asian communities to spread awareness around detecting cancer early, it became imperative to cross the cultural barriers and break the myths surrounding cancer within these communities. We approached community leaders, relayed messages through ethnic radio and television channels and advertised in ethnic newspapers. This helped the NHS cross barriers and target this audience in a more culturally friendly way.
The point to be made here is, we are not negating culture but are trying to bring out the positive and celebratory aspects of culture. This will help diffuse some of the issues surrounding alienation and integration. Most ethnic communities feel alienated when mainstream agencies ignore their voices, their wants – and this is further proven by the representation of ethnic communities in advertisements or even in agencies themselves.
Mainstream companies are slowly recognising these voices. On one hand you have companies such as Lebara who have made a mark by serving these communities and their needs and on the other mainstream companies such as Telefonica O2 who realise the potential and come up with an international calling app – World Chat and use our knowledge and insights to communicate to this audience in a culturally bespoke way – be it during a campaign during the cricket world cup or the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit.
In fact a complete takeover of Wembley Park Stadium Station by Indian brands goes to show the potential of these communities and why they cannot be ignored. Thereby making the media catering exclusively to them ever so important.
Besides, respecting and bring out these cultures, it is vital to protect the voices that serve them as well – such as ethnic press, radio and television. They may not have the media muscle as a Channel 4 or The Times but without them reaching out to these communities would prove to be a tough task and for that they need our support – as agencies, as brands as an audience.