• Lion Brewery have announced its decision to ditch the iconic 'white guys on a beach' as the face of XXXX beer. (Lion Brewery)Source: Lion Brewery
Advertising can play a major role in defining our national identity.
Jo Hartley

22 Sep 2016 - 8:25 AM  UPDATED 21 Feb 2018 - 9:01 AM

Speaking at the recent Mumbrella 360 conference, Lion Brewery announced its decision to dump its iconic ‘four white guys on a beach’ as the face of its best-selling XXXX Gold brand. 

Marketing Director, Ben Slocombe, said that the adverts no longer reflected the changing face of multicultural Australia and, if changes weren’t made, the values of XXXX Gold wouldn’t stand the test of time.

And his company is not the only one to recognise this.

In fact, a recent Australian lamb advert has already paved the way.

The advert, which depicts guests attending a barbeque, accurately reflects our multicultural society and positively promotes cultural inclusion.  

The guests attending represent a number of ethnicities, as well as gay dads with their new baby, a woman signing in Auslan and a smattering of celebrities.

One of the most poignant segments of the advert shows the Indigenous Australians being served their lamb first.

So is this the shape of things to come? We can certainly only hope so, because, with an increasingly diverse population, Australia is now home to people from all over the world.  

According to ABS, as of the 30 June 2015, 28.2 per cent of Australia's estimated resident population (6.7 million people) was born overseas, and this figure will only continue to rise. 

Research conducted by the Smart Company estimated that net migration to Australia would total around 2.5 million between 2009 and mid-2020. 

So are advertisers in general doing enough to reflect our changing multicultural nation?

Ivor Vaz is a content and engagement manager who regularly works with advertisers. He’s also a migrant to Australia from Bahrain.

“I moved to Australia eight years ago on a university scholarship,” he says.  “My parents’ heritage are both Portuguese and Indian, but I identify as Australian and proudly call Melbourne home.”

From a personal perspective, Vaz says that Australian adverts don’t currently reflect a multicultural nation. He believes that what they do reflect is a problem that’s much deeper seated.

“Australia is a thriving multicultural society, but sadly we haven’t yet embraced that as a national identity and that’s the problem,” he says.

“Advertising need only change when it’s not achieving what it needs to do, which is communicating and resonating with the target audience. Until then, they’ll keep rolling the creative that works.”

Australia is a thriving multicultural society, but sadly we haven’t yet embraced that as a national identity and that’s the problem.

Despite this, Vaz says that he does believe change will happen, but only when we embrace the identity of all Australians who are of this land, those who’ve colonised it and those who have migrated.

“I think that advertising reflecting a multicultural nation is important because it means that advertisers (both clients and agencies) acknowledge that Australia’s audience is multicultural enough to identify with the advert.

“From a personal perspective I love brands that embrace diversification and multiculturalism, but that’s just me.”

Not everyone thinks that Australia is behind the times with their advertising however. 

Mark Saba, CEO at multicultural communication agency, Lexigo has worked in the advertising industry for years and has noticed a definite trend.

“There’s been a big shift from targeting multicultural audiences through niche and traditional media outlets, towards moving and integrating these campaigns into mainstream media outlets, alongside digital and social media outlets,” he says.

While Saba doesn’t necessarily think that Australia needs to ‘change’ its advertising, he does agree that there’s always room for a shift in any advertising approach.

“As a brand, you need to have your finger on the pulse in order to grow and relate to your audiences and this is a perfect example of when it needs to be done,” he says.

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He notes that if this approach is not adopted then all consumers, regardless of cultural background, will vote with their feet if they feel a brand isn’t connecting with them.

Despite this, Saba says that there’s a fine line between multicultural marketing and advertising that comes across as discriminatory or alienating. 

Instead, he says, it needs to be focused on embracing the society that we live in.   And he believes that this is the way it’s going.

“Generally, mainstream brands are increasingly updating their advertising to reflect our diverse society and be more relatable, and this trend will only increase as we continue to grow as a multicultural society,” he says. 

Saba notes that the increasing trend in digital and social media also means that brands can now reach and engage multicultural audiences - in their native language if necessary - without alienating existing customers or audiences.

“Multicultural consumers are part of a broader community that not only share a set of values, culture and history but also their brand experiences (good and bad), therefore providing a big opportunity to gain loyalty with these markets fast."

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