Since I’ve been in the US, I’ve always celebrated Thanksgivings with my American friends. A traditional Thanksgiving Day with turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie and my favorite pineapple mint salad (Minnesota dish.) Then, on Friday, it’s the Moroccan holiday; we cook some traditional dishes which is Couscous. This makes for a lot of cooking and a lot of food, but with all my brothers, cousins and friends, nobody misses a beat.
This year, Thanksgiving Day is followed by the Muslim holiday Eid Al Adha. Many families are wondering how to celebrate this classic American holiday and their own holiday. They are both as much about the food as it is about family and sharing. The Muslim feast re-enacts Abraham’s obedience by sacrificing a cow or ram. The family eats about a third of the meal and donates the rest to the poor. American Muslims have a double blessing this year. They are marking both events, Thanksgiving and the end of Hajj, by sharing with others and showing the importance of family to people of all faiths. At Allied-media Corp., we are celebrating a “Multicultural Thanksgiving,” from East to West. Everyone is celebrating differently with their own mixed traditions.
In early October 2009, the 5th Annual US-Afghanistan Business Matchmaking Conference hosted by the Afghan Chamber of Commerce was held in Washington D.C. The conference on business related issues focused on Afghan market strategy and optimal ways of developing and expanding the business networks.
Afghan Cabinet Officials, the Overseas Private Investment Corp.; U.S. Department of Defense; U.S. Department of Commerce, and the U.S. Agency for International Development were just some of the organizations and agencies present. Some newly created companies from Afghanistan had representatives in attendance – hoping to gain marketing knowledge from American companies.
In the current competitive global economic environment, Afghan companies must ask themselves: how do we become effective and memorable? In my opinion, developing a media strategy and sticking with a course of action will create memorable business experiences for clients. In attending conferences like this one, companies can learn to think differently and possibly even develop a fresh approach to their business.
All of this comes after three decades of war in Afghanistan. All Afghans in-country and abroad hold hope for both the Afghan government, the U.S. and NATO efforts there along with many other national and international NGOs and companies that are serving in the reconstruction and rebuilding of Afghanistan. Economic success in Afghanistan will take a steady approach by all parties and varied media effort to engage the Afghans in-country as well as those abroad.
Abdul R. Reshtin
Allied Media Corp.
The Ninth Annual Russian Film Week took place this past week in New York City. The festival featured a total of 13 award-winning movies from Russia, as well as those never before seen on the silver screen in the U.S. The movies presented include films from such well known directors as Sergei Solovyov (Anna Karenina), Pavel Lungin (Tsar’), Nikolai Dostal (Peter on the Way to Heaven), Rustem Abrashev (The Gift to Stalin), Sergei Snezhkin (Bury Me Behind the Baseboard), Valeriya Gai Germanika (Everybody Dies But Me), Aleksandr Proshkin (Miracle), Katya Shagalova (Once Upon a Time in the Provinces), Kira Muratova (Melody for a Street Organ), Aleksei Mizgiryov (Buben, Baraban), Nikolai Khomeriki (Tale in the Darkness), Lidiya Bobrova (Believe!) and Vadim Ostrovsky (Black Spot.)
It kicked off on November 13th with the premiere of Sergey Solovyov’s Anna Karenina at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center. Anna Karenina is the film adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s novel, a tragic story of love and betrayal, the fate of a woman who, in the heat of passion decides to completely change her life.
The film week has received great reviews and interest not only from the Russian American movie goers but also from American critics and cinematographers. Judging by the turn out at the opening night movie screening – the festival is gaining popular support as well. Given the current situation of the movie industry in Russia, all of the films presented at the festival, are a true indicator of the heroic perseverance of Russian cinematographers, screenwriters, and artists who continue to strive to realize their artistic expression onto the silver screen. Thus, this festival not only provides the directors and artists with exposure in the U.S., but also introduces international movie goers to authentic Russian characters and the Russian culture through the creative expression of the filmmakers.
Eastern European Team Lead at Allied Media Corp.
The 2009 ANA Masters of Marketing Conference took place in early November in Phoenix, Arizona, and was headlined with the theme “Growth—Defying the Recession.” Marketers from around the nation gathered to discuss, brainstorm and debate marketing tactics to bring success to their companies and the industry as a whole.
Neil Golden, CMO for McDonald’s, offered his perspective on the future of the business using the over-arching idea of “Leading with Ethnic Insights.” Golden stated that the most effective universal campaigns represented a cross-cultural approach—by combining marketing ideas specific for the African American, Asian American and Hispanic markets, a fusion was created to resonate across all cultures.
Golden even went as far to remark that these minorities groups are the trend setters, and their preferences set the tone of the general marketplace campaigns.
Rochelle Newman-Carrasco wrote an article commending Golden. Though I find Newman-Carrasco’s points valid, she fails to address the point that we still have a ways to go in terms of the ethnic market perspective and efforts. For example, the growing number of Arab Americans in the metropolitan areas or the large amount of dollars accrued by Russian Americans.
Some government agencies, such as the U.S. Army and the FBI, have begun a broader outreach because of staffing language requirements. Even fewer corporate companies are acknowledging such ethnic groups by using advertising dollars.
Golden’s speech is definitely a step in the right direction, but more steps must be taken to recognize the rest of those contributing and residing in the U.S. Branching out to these new waters can advance a brand or company and be part of the boost the industry needs to “defy the recession.”
The ethnic and racial composition of the United States has changed dramatically since 2000. The 2010 Census results are projected to show this trend continuing. Therefore, the U.S. Census Bureau is placing special emphasis on securing a complete and accurate count for those sectors of the United States population that have historically been under-counted. This includes Russian speakers.
For the first time in the history of the Census, Questionnaire Assistance Centers (QAC) will be opened to aid Russian speakers. Russian-language forms will be available to order over the phone through a toll-free number. Bilingual Census personnel at QAC’s also can help Russian-speakers to fill out English forms that they receive in the mail.
In addition to providing access to Russian-speaking employees at the Questionnaire Assistance Centers, the Census Bureau is hiring bilingual census workers. These census workers will visit areas with high concentrations of Russian speakers. A Census Bureau employee will visit the respondent at their home and collect the answers in person if this respondent does not fill out and mail back the census form on time.
Another way that the Census Bureau hopes to increase participation within Russian community is through in-language 2010 Census brochures, fact sheets, and frequently asked questions that are available for download on the census Web site, www.2010census.gov. Russian-American organizations and community leaders across the country are encouraging participation in their communities through distribution of these in-language materials.
The 2010 Census form will be the shortest in history. This simple form consists of 10 easy questions and takes just a few minutes to complete and send back via mail. The questions ask for information such as name, gender, age, date of birth, race, and whether respondents own or rent their home. There are no questions about immigration status, Social Security Numbers, political or religious affiliation. All responses are used for statistical purposes only, are strictly confidential, and are not shared with anyone, including any other federal agency.
The results obtained from the 2010 Census data will determine how $400 billion in funds are allocated to states for the development of hospitals, schools, police stations, roads and other critical community services.
Over the last 10 years, the face of our nation has changed dramatically, but in order to know precisely how much it has changed, the U.S. Census Bureau encourages every person residing in the United States to participate in the upcoming census.
Eastern European Team Lead at Allied Media Corp.
On November 9, 2009 the international conference “Doing business with Russia 2009” took place in Washington DC, hosted by the Russian Trade Representation and the Russian Cultural Center. The speakers discussed a number of important topics including: the current business environment in Russia, Russian-American business collaboration, and new market opportunities in Russia. Overall, the focus of the conference was on international trade opportunities and how the global economic crisis has affected business relationships between the U.S. and Russia.
Investments from the private American companies have declined since the beginning of the crisis, and strict laws along with the unpredictable political situation in Russia continues to impede the establishment of trade relations between these two countries. Andrey Dolgorukov, Trade Representative of Russian Federation to the United States commented, “Over the past twenty years, our bilateral trade relationships have experienced ups and downs, and it is no secret that often these changes were influenced by political relations.”
The afternoon portion of the conference was dedicated to Russian investors of the U.S. market. According to Mikhail Grin, President at Grand Metro Consulting, there are two groups of entrepreneurs investing in the U.S. economy. The first group represents the commodity sector, including such well-known companies as Gazprom, Lukoil and Nornickel. The second group comprises producers of consumer goods, such as meat and dairy products, chemical, engineering, consulting and wood-processing companies. These two groups differ dramatically in size, they have different profits, and entered the market at various times. However, these companies are alike when it comes to learning from American companies; they actively organize the labor structure within the company based on successful American models.
What I took away from the conference, is that the “Reset” button has been pushed between the U.S. and Russia. Despite the global economic crisis, the business relationships between the U.S. and Russia remain strong. And to make this relationship even stronger, companies can utilize Russian-speaking professionals in the U.S. Such practice will help with language barriers, cultural relevancy and overall effectiveness.
Eastern European Team Lead at Allied Media Corp.
Earlier this week, I went up to New York City to show our rough cuts to our client. For someone in the marketing industry, this is a pretty standard process in ANY campaign. That being said, I don’t know how many people from the industry are actually reading this blog, so I thought it might be a fun to give everyone some insight into what takes place when dealing with an outreach marketing campaign.
Now, I could go over the whole campaign, beginning to end. I could go over the strategic planning for our media plan, the internal logistics of our day to day operations, or the process our PR goes through when pitching a story to the media. That would be very informative but let’s be honest, the most fun part of any marketing campaign is what you see on TV, a newspaper, the internet; the CREATIVE.
First, let me set it up a bit. You see, the agency I work for a multicultural agency that is specialized in reaching out to smaller, “emerging” (Middle Eastern, South & Central Asian, Eastern European) ethnic audiences. The client is a large government agency looking to reach out to the wide range of demographics that make up the whole of the United States. It is my agency’s responsibility to not only reach out and disseminate information to six different “emerging” language audiences nationwide, but develop the creative concepts for these language groups as well.
We started a couple of years back, when we came up with and tested three different tag lines. We used focus groups to test these tag lines and we were lucky enough to come out with one, clear cut winner. In some cases, coming up with a tag line can be a lengthy process and we were lucky to avoid that. We then went to the drawing board, came up with different ad concepts to reach out to these audiences, showed them to the client for approval, and tested them against each other in copy testing focus groups. For this first round of copy testing, we showed four different TV commercial concepts in video story board format and four different print ad concepts with place holder images.
We then came back with the audience’s feedback, made the necessary adjustments and showed our client’s stake holder’s the original creative concepts with our proposed revisions. Showing the creative to the campaigns stakeholders is an important part of the process. Stakeholders hold influence in companies, agencies, and even in marketing campaigns. Keeping the stakeholders informed and pleased is an important part of the creative process and though one must be mindful of adhering to all of the stakeholder’s advice, one should always include what they can in the creative while staying true to the integrity of the work. In our case, though we appreciated all and included some of the stakeholder’s feedback, we needed to keep in mind what is best for our audience and in turn, the outcome of the campaign. With their feedback included, we then went out for a second round of copy testing where this time we showed four radio commercial concepts (voice over’s with sample music created from TV concepts) and eight total print ad concepts (four older revised against four new concepts).
With all the feedback collected, we then had to choose which creative concepts we would move forward with and what adjustments would be made to the creative to make them more effective and allow for the best possible results on this the campaign. We then took our final decisions to the client, showed them our ideas and received their approval.
Up next, PRODUCTION .