Cultural relevance and sensitivity are key to advertising revenue gains from this target audience.
Posted Apr 1, 2005
Cable TV network International Channel this week rebranded as AZN Television, adding a heavy dose of Asian films, anime, and music in a variety of languages, as well as original programming produced in English for and by Asian Americans. The channel previously presented Middle Eastern and European programming. "We felt [the Asian American audience] deserved to have a whole network focused on it, because the demographic is so attractive," says Bill Georges, vice president of advertising sales for parent company International Networks.
Advertising on this channel must be approached differently from mass marketing campaigns, according to Georges. Luxury automobile companies, investment and bank firms, and telecommunications companies find the target audience attractive. But AZN recommends creating ads that are tailored and culturally sensitive. The company directs advertisers to Asian agencies with which they have close relationships, and often offers discounts if they run culturally relevant ads. "We know they'll be more effective that way [and] we'll have them as long-term clients," Georges says.
Businesses that have recognized this opportunity already include Ford Motors, State Farm insurance, Charles Schwab, and Bank of America. Some companies run ads in several languages; others, such as Pepsi, run them only in English. If a program does not have subtitles, only commercials in that particular language are permitted, according to Georges.
U.S. Census numbers reveal Asian Americans make more money and spend more than any other ethnic group, with an overall spending power of $363 billion. The census also shows that 85 percent of Asian Americans speak English, so the channel's original programming will be produced in English in the United States--people can see programming they want to see and be depicted the way they want to be viewed on television.
AZN is going directly to Asian studios and providers to get exclusive and first-run rights on many popular dramas and music videos. This type of entertainment is not exclusive to other audiences, however. "It is first and foremost a channel for Asian Americans, but the secondary audience are these people who are enticed, interested in Asian culture," Georges says. "From sushi to yoga, there are so many things society has an interest in."
The company is soliciting help from Asian nightclubs and fraternities to hit the younger market and is advertising in single-language newspapers to reach the older audience. Its biggest challenge, Georges says, is working with Nielsen Media Research to help get into Asian homes and define that group's special habits. "Everyone has had Asia on their radar screen. What's kept them from jumping into it is, there hasn't been a way to reach this audience," he says. "Early adapters start to build brand equity before it gets popular. It's a leap of faith right now."
"Twenty-five years ago you'd never have [people from] Puerto Rico and Mexico...or the Dominican Republic...identify themselves as even being remotely the same," Georges says. "But Univision came along and tried to make Hispanic be not just a census title, but gave them a voice where they could have a place in the community."
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