IMG_2329v2When I arrived in Miami on Sunday, October 28th for the ANA Multicultural Marketing & Diversity Conference, Sandy was already making her presence felt. Back in NYC, colleagues were dealing with flights being delayed or cancelled altogether. Luckily, those of us who were presenting, including our client, Erica Bowen, VP Marketing L’Oreal Paris, made it safe and sound.

On Monday morning, I had the honor of kicking off the conference and delivering opening remarks on behalf of McCann Worldgroup.

I talked about my experience in global research, comparing and contrasting consumers in countries all over the world. As a fairly new resident in the US I am genuinely fascinated by the diversity that characterizes the consumer landscape (and differentiates the US from so many of the other countries I study).

It has been an exciting year for multicultural marketers in the US with the landmark announcement that Hispanics, African Americans, Asians and those of mixed race — now account for more than half the children born in the U.S.

This made official what we’ve believed for quite some time – that multicultural is the new mainstream. Multicultural marketing should never be regarded as an afterthought. Instead, we believe that multicultural consumers should be viewed as the thought-leaders who are shaping the America of tomorrow.

Bob Liodice, president and chief executive officer of the ANA, was next up. He spoke about the ANA’s commitment to multicultural marketing and how this conference, now in its 14th year, had grown from barely one hundred attendees to nearly 700 people today.

The event’s momentum increased with keynote sessions by senior-level client-side marketers from companies such as AT&T, Chrysler, Kellogg and PwC. Deep Dive sessions included Asian marketing, Black America for marketers, the Hispanic 50+ demo, LGBT, and social media.

At lunch, McCann Truth Central took the stage again to present a special Truth vs. Lies Quiz highlighting the most surprising ‘truths’ from countries and populations that most impact multicultural advertising in the U.S. The audience got pretty excitable as everyone tried to guess the truths amongst the lies for a chance to win a prize.

Monday night turned surreal as Sandy bore down on the Northeast. At dinner, instead of following the awards show, we were following Facebook on our phones as Sandy began her assault on the New York metro area.

Tuesday morning was game day. Wal-Mart was first on the day’s program. Then it was our turn to share the main stage with our client, Erica Bowen, VP Marketing L’Oreal Paris to present “The Truth About Beauty”. I presented key insights from our recent “Truth About Beauty” global study to provide the big picture overview. Patricia Shibata highlighted specific learnings about the Hispanic, African-American and Asian segments. Erica spoke about L’Oreal’s mission of offering beauty for all to meet the infinite diversity of beauty needs and desires all over the world.

Afterwards many members of the audience rushed up to speak with us. Especially Erica, who later told us she felt like a “rock star.”

Happy and relieved that all went well, we switched our focus to rebooking return flights. I was delighted to be back in NYC and even more delighted to finally get the power back on Saturday. I hope others on the East Coast who are still coping with the aftermath get the help and support they need. If you would like to donate you can go here.