July 20th, 2009
Posted by Jose Villa
I first read about Project MC a few months ago when Adweek ran a story on the group spearheaded by Jo Muse. If you havenâ€™t heard about them, Project MC is an initiative â€œdesigned to define the role and importance of agencies that specialize in marketing to African-Americans, Asians and Hispanics.â€ In the Adweek piece, Muse mentioned that the group was planning on launching initially as a Ning social network in mid-July. Since its mid-July, I thought it would be a good time to review the initiative and where they are at.
As a quick update, Project MC has launched a beta network on Ning that you can join at http://projectmc.ning.com/. I joined today, and it appears that the network is still being tested. Other than the Ning beta site, I have not heard or read anything else about Project MC.
Hopefully the group gets off the ground, because I think their mission is relevant considering the state of multicultural advertising. No matter where you come down on the various debates swirling around multicultural advertising, no one can argue that the industry is not rapidly changing. A healthy internal debate and a chorus of voices from the leaders of African-American, Hispanic and Asian agencies are critical at this moment.
In terms of what I can ascertain about Project MC, there are some things I definitely like. Most importantly, I am encouraged to see African-American, Hispanic and Asian shops working together. There is truth in the old saying that there is strength in numbers. Not only do we have a louder voice when we join together, but we can take advantage of the diversity we so often promote â€“ we can learn from our diverse experiences â€“ both successes and failures. Beside the collective power of joining together, I think Muse and his colleagues are going about this project the right way by starting with a social media platform.
However, there are a few issues that I would like to see Project MC address.
First, what is the goal of Project MC? I feel the group needs a clearer, more defined, and ideally quantifiable goal than just â€œdefine the importance of [multicultural] agencies.â€ Do they expect to see ad spend increase by x% by 20xx, etc.?
Also, why arenâ€™t prominent multicultural advertisers more actively involved, particularly on the groundfloor of Project MC? According to the Adweek story the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) is being reached out to, but I would like to see some multicultural leaders within ANA involved in launching the group. It is critically important to make the case for multicultural advertising, particularly with examples of ROI and business success that only advertisers can make.
Finally, Project MC needs a broader, more deliberate social media strategy. They are on the right path with the Ning social network, but they canâ€™t expect the entire initiative to live on Ning. How do they plan on leveraging popular social platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter, and social bookmarking sites that are already part of digital lives of the folks theyâ€™re trying to reach?
Project MC holds a lot of promise. I sincerely hope they get traction. There are some importance challenges ahead, not the least of which is addresses their biggest concern â€“ turning dialogue into action!
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