As many have heard, this past Saturday, April 10, 2010, Polish President Lech Kaczynski, along with many other dignitaries of Poland, died in a tragic plane crash. The 96 victims, comprising military, religious and government officials, were on their way to Katyn, Russia to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the massacre of Polish officers by Soviet forces.
In an article by Sophia Tareen of the Associated Press, Blanche Weigand, whose mother immigrated from Poland to Chicago in 1950 said, “It was like losing a family member. I’m from Chicago, but my heart is in Poland.”
This tragedy had a global reach, touching not only those in Poland and Russia, but immigrants worldwide who remained strongly tied to their homeland. I personally have seen the accident’s affect firsthand through my work with Polish American media vendors.
To be aware of critical current affairs and significant historical events allows you to connect closer with people. In marketing, it helps with business relations, recruitment messaging, and overall communication efforts. Having this perspective and understanding is critical in making a true connection to a community, whether it be Polish Americans or another ethnic group.
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.”
According to some Russian newspapers, there is currently a new Russian emigration wave to the West, specifically to Europe, Canada and the U.S. This wave is also known as “quiet emigration.” Because of the economical crisis in Russia, tens of thousands of managers, entrepreneurs and middle class professionals lose their jobs and seek employment abroad.
There were four major waves of Russian immigration to the US. The first one started in 1917, after the October Revolution, which consisted of mainly political immigrants escaping the Bolsheviks. The second wave was in late 1940’s, after World War II. The third wave took place in the 1970′s when hundreds of thousands Russian Jews emigrated as political refugees. The most recent and fourth major wave came in the 1990′s after the fall of the Soviet Union.
This new wave of immigration, if it were to happen, would be the fifth major wave of immigration. While some project the certainty of new people to the West; no one projects a wave larger than what took places in the early 90’s. However, if the unemployment level in Russia decreases or stays at the current (relatively high level) – this situation might change. The number of Russian immigrants to the United States has the potential to increase dramatically.
Recent immigrants to the U.S. are highly educated professionals, many of whom suffer the consequences of the current economic climate in Russia. Some of these people have been known to keep their Russian citizenship in the hope that the Russian situation might turn around.
For instance, some people have been known to buy real estate and live in two countries traveling back and forth. Another example, immigrants who have come on business or student visas, often return to their native Russia. Finally, of course there are illegal immigrants; one might say these are people that have fallen victim to the economic troubles found in Russia.
Today, the immigration issue continues to be a topic of debate, with a myriad of opinion on the matter. Some Americans are against open immigration, while others believe it is essential for the success of this country. Regardless of one’s position, most people agree that immigrants come to the United States in order to achieve a better life; a piece of the American dream.
Eastern European Team Lead at Allied Media Corp.
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Halloween in Russia is not quite the same as it is in the United States. You will not see gleeful kids trick-or-treating on the Moscow streets – simply because Halloween is not celebrated among children in Russia. The holiday, originally brought to North America from Ireland, found its way into Russian night clubs about eight to ten years ago. Halloween remains new for the majority of Russian society, yet signs show that the holiday is gaining popularity among young adults. But those are Russians in Russia, how do Russian-Americans celebrate Halloween?
In the U.S., Halloween is quite popular among Russian-Americans, but to make it more popular they made this fun event a bit Russified. Russian-American nightlife during Halloween has never been this good. All of the popular Russian places in cities with sizable Russian American populations have special Halloween programs. Many Russian restaurants, bars, clubs and other places of gathering hold an exclusive event dedicated to Halloween. Although usually this event is decorated like any other Halloween party in the US: spooky decorations, carved pumpkins and guests in funky or scary costumes. Indeed, Halloween in the Russian-American community is customized specifically for Russians.
To attract the Russian-speaking crowd and those who like Russian customs, many places try to keep everything traditionally Russian: there is distinctive interior design, music, performed by Russian American DJs, delicious food, prepared by Russian chefs and, of course, Russian traditional beverages that make any occasion spectacular. Other than that, Russian Americans perfectly adopted this fun and perky event as a part of their life in the US. After all, it’s easy to adopt such fun, adorable and childish pieces of “American culture” and make it truly “Russian American.”
Allied Media Corp.
Eastern European Team Lead
The U.S. Census Bureau is seeking to partner with Russian American organizations to increase participation of hard-to-reach Russian communities for the 2010 Census count. Since 1790, the United States government has conducted a census every ten years in order to count the full population in the United States. The 2010 Census will mark the 23rd census of the U.S. It is a constitutional right of all U.S. residents to participate in the census.
For recent Russian immigrants and non-native English speakers, this might be the first census they participate in, so it is important to understand what to expect from the census. “It is extremely important for our community to be accurately counted,” stated Rabbi Alexander Milchtein, the Milwaukee Synagogue for Russian Jews (MSRJ). “The 2010 Census helps gain an accurate picture of America today. If this community is under-counted, they will be underrepresented for all the government and private services for the next ten years. The role of the government is huge and many decisions are going to be made depending on the results of the census.” Following the census, results determine how more than $400 billion in funds are allocated to states for the development of hospitals, schools, police stations, roads and other critical community services.
To Milchtein, success means correctly counting the community. To make that happen residents must get involved, step up, and spread the word—after all “everyone has friends or relatives who will benefit from the services.” To ease the process, a new shorter form has been introduced with only ten easy questions, and the Census Bureau guarantees total privacy and confidentiality of the data. Every person must be counted whether he or she is a citizen or non-citizen, documented or undocumented for the greater good of the community.
The Census Bureau hopes that partnering with local Russian American organizations will bring a greater sense of inclusion to Russian-speakers. “Get your full share!” Milchtein concludes. “Residents pay taxes no matter what, if taxes go back to the community, you want to get benefits back the same proportion that you paid. If you’re not counted, it’s like you’re not here.”
During the month of Ramadan (August 21 – September 19), the U.S. Army 1st Brigade has launched a poster distribution campaign to recruit Arabic translators. For effective results and with a focused effort, the U.S. Army chose to disregard traditional ad placements and take a more personal route. The posters are in Arabic and even include a traditional Ramadan greeting.
You will find posters in the windows of local shops while walking the streets of Paterson, NJ; Brooklyn, NY; Fairfax, VA and other locales densely populated with Arab Americans. These ethnic stores are an integral part of the community; a place to see familiar faces and buy cultural cuisine. It’s great that the U.S. Army 1st Brigade recognizes the importance of these communities and the heavy presence of these retail shops.
Such a distribution campaign is a perfect way to reach out to ethnic communities. There are alternative ways, such as inserting flyers in the in-language newspapers, but hanging a poster in the store is noticeable, attractive and personal. Many of these ethnic communities are concentrated in or near cities, so it’s also likely a customer seeing the poster in one store will see it again in another nearby shop—creating more exposure, higher readership, and a longer-lived message.
Allied Media Corp. provides this service across many ethnic communities including Arab-Americans, Polish-Americans and Russian-Americans. If you’d like to know more about distribution campaigns or ethnic communications in general, check out: www.allied-media.com
If you have interest in becoming a translator for the U.S. Army, visit the website: www. GoArmy.com/translate
Remember: advertising, outreach and recruitment to minorities is most successful when you incorporate a cultural awareness of your audience!
September 9, 2009 became a historical day for the Russian-speaking community in the US. Not just because this day was marked as “09-09-09” (he-he). Rather because, on this day Governor David Paterson signed a law requiring Russian translation of all materials of the Electoral Council. The law was signed at Brighton Beach, which has the largest Russian speaking community in the United States. Although the law comes into force in 2010, the event stirred up the entire Russian community and the political elite of New York. Finally, the Russian community is recognized as sizable enough for the Electoral Council. Way to go! Another great cause to raise our shots and say “Na zdorov’e!”