NEW YORK, October 2—Among the major agencies, Ketchum has been a leader in multicultural marketing, launching an African-American Markets Group in 1998 and following up more recently with the launch of a Hispanic Markets Group. Now the firm is consolidating those two units into a new practice, Ketchum Vanguard Cultural Marketing, led by Esther Novak.
Ketchum has acquired Novak’s firm, Vanguard Communications, and Novak will work with the African-American practice leader Betsy Helgager, based in Atlanta, and the Hispanic practice leader José Villaseñor in Dallas to develop corporate marketing programs that build brands and successful strategies that increase product sales and market share.
“We intend for Ketchum Vanguard to break new ground by bringing together specialized expertise in multicultural marketing and skills in all aspects of marketing communications,” says agency CEO Ray Kotcher. “Our clients will benefit from the ability to build successful integrated strategies appropriate to their brand, product and category. Ketchum fully recognizes diversity as a competitive business advantage.”
Novak founded one of the first independent marketing communications and public relations firms concentrated on multicultural market segments and serving a wide range of clients, including Gillette, Sprint PCS, Tropicana/Dole, and Perdue. Prior to that she held various positions at AT&T, where she pioneered and oversaw multicultural marketing and corporate communications.
“We’re very excited about the prospect of serving both marketers and consumers,” says Novak. “The recent Census results reinforce the enormous power and potential of these markets. To reach them effectively, it’s critical to know how cultural background shapes consumers’ interpretation of what they see, what they believe and how they behave. 
“Marketers succeed when they recognize the diversity of their customers as well as the issues, trends, opinion leaders and community based organizations that influence their success.”