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How brands can successfully reach and engage diverse audiences with OOH advertising



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May 16, 2023 | 8 min read

Did you know that Black, Asian and multi-ethnic consumer decisions are driven more by ethical considerations than the general population? Or that the average monthly disposable income of the multi-ethnic consumer is £375m, equating to an annual disposable income of £4

5bn? This makes it one of the UK’s most exciting and untapped audiences.

These insights come from The Black Pound Report 2022 - a research study that gives marketers the tools to understand the multi-ethnic consumer beyond a single, homogenous segment by delivering ground-breaking insights that underline diversity and inclusion as the key to business progression.

Rajvi Kantaria, marketing director at JCDecaux UK delves into the various ways in which out of home (OOH) advertising has become one of the go-to channels for brands that want to address diversity – our moral and economic imperative.

Diversity is a new currency for brands

To understand the importance of diversity we need to consider the negative impact of non-inclusivity. One example has been shared recently by Lydia Amoah, CEO of BACKLIGHT and founder of the Black Pound Report who, in the 1990s, when looking to buy make up, was told by a shop assistant that they only have colors for “normal skin tones.”

Thankfully, the world has moved on a lot since then. Today, brands such as Fenty Beauty by Rihanna, and Pharrell Williams’ luxury fashion collaboration, Billionaire Boys Club, are highly sought after, but there’s still a long way to go if brands are to fully address the multi-ethnic audience. And, as Ian Whittaker points out in the latest Digital Changemakers podcast, “it’s now not only a moral imperative but an economic one too.”

Inclusive engagement

Why create a campaign that 16% of your demographic can’t relate to instead of curating one that speaks to all? Especially when you consider that Black, Asian and multi-ethnic consumer decisions are driven more by ethical considerations than the general population. OOH is uniquely positioned in terms of its ability to reach, reflect, and engage audiences in contextually and culturally relevant environments.

Using data-driven campaign planning to ensure specific messages reach the target audience is key, according to Thanh Catachanas, who heads JCDecaux’s Reach program designed to support brand growth for Black Asian and multi-ethnic brands, helping them scale and grow.

“It’s never been easier to reach a diverse audience with OOH. Today’s marketers have access to a wealth of data sources such as YouGov and Census information that can be used to plan campaigns that take into consideration, for example, ethnicity and language, alongside location, first-party data, and travel data from Route. By doing this, brands can achieve inclusive engagement in an efficient and scalable way."

Thanh Catachanas, head of collaboration and acquisition at JCDecaux UK

Furthermore, working with an omnichannel DSP or trading desk enables brands to seamlessly link programmatic advertising – including programmatic OOH - to cultural data triggers. For example, during Iftar (one of the religious observances of Ramadan), ITV adjusted spend and creative based on sunset data, and EE use flight arrival data to trigger changes to the language displayed in their creative in Heathrow airport.

EE using flight arrival data to trigger changes to the language displayed in their creative in Heathrow airport

Understanding difference

Using data and insights like these helps to counter the inbuilt propensity for humans to assume that everyone thinks and consumes exactly like they do. This is a problem that is particularly prevalent – but not talked about enough – in media planning. Thinkbox’s research project ‘Think Abnormal’ showed that media planners differ from the general public in important ways, including using social media far more and watching TV far less.

The best marketers are those that understand that not all consumers have the same wants and needs and take the time to properly research the challenges faced by all their audience segments.

The Swim Proud ad campaign from Soul Cap, for example, was born from research by Studio Expectation that identified the barriers the Black community face in terms of water education, access, and safety. This insight revealed barriers that range from a fear of the water, pride, cultural myths, hair, appearance, and the exclusion felt at swimming locations. Using these insights, Soul Cap developed a powerful ad campaign that addressed each of these challenges and used data to plan and buy OOH ads in relevant locations deploying messaging that most strongly resonated with consumers in those locations.

How to effectively take action and tap into the £4.4bn opportunity

The UK economy is built on the ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit of ethnic minority businesses but there are barriers that prevent these businesses from reaching their full potential. To help address these challenges, JCDecaux UK has partnered with the Google Black Founders Fund, which was founded to tackle racial inequality in venture capital funding. Through this partnership, we have helped start-up brands including Boxx, FoodLama, Sojo and RUKA to ensure that minority ethnic audiences are fully addressed in bold, public-facing campaigns.

RUKA’s vision is to “become the definitive hair brand for black women globally, by building an ecosystem of hair solutions which truly work,” says co-founder and CEO Tendai Moyo. “As a young black girl, I didn’t get to see a lot of people that looked like me when it came to hair and beauty advertising. Being able to create something that speaks to both me and the little girl version of me is going to be surreal.”

Left to right: Tendai Moyo (co-founder and CEO, RUKA), Ugo Agbai (co-founder and COO, RUKA), Josephine Philips (founder and CEO, SOJO), Damilare Ogunleye (CEO and co-founder, Foodlama), Anna Samuels (founder, BOXX).

No one can predict if a start-up brand will go on to the global magnitude of Fenty Beauty or Billionaire Boys Club, but the effect these new brands have on the communities they engage is priceless. Similarly, established brands that diversify their messaging and re-think how they target and engage consumers bring much-needed freshness and can also benefit from the untapped multi-ethnic opportunity.

Scaling Black, Asian, and multi-ethnic businesses

We amplify opportunities for Black, Asian and Multi-Ethnic businesses to scale and grow, helping them communicate with their target audiences in greater numbers through equity of access to OOH advertising. Bringing more diverse businesses to the forefront of communities helps foster more representative advertising content.

Through tailored use of JCDecaux’s extensive data-driven planning tools, campaigns delivered via the Reach program will enable Black, Asian and Multi-Ethnic brands to break through and target wider potential audiences for their products and services. Reach makes the most of JCDecaux’s expertise in location targeting to match message and creative to target audiences, ensuring that campaigns resonate closely with them and grow their customer base. The program is also designed to bring big brands to diverse communities through representative, inclusive messaging; and to help heritage ethnic brands grow from niche to mass market through the OOH’s proven democratic, open, trusted broadcast capabilities.

By working with more ethnically owned businesses, Reach is also designed to increase representation across OOH, showcasing more diverse businesses and representing more diverse consumers front and centre at the heart of communities. Reach ensures that campaigns running on JCDecaux channels are truly representative of all communities the business serves. Find out more here or check out case studies from previous campaigns here.



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