Hands Up

INNOVATION, RANGE, AND PROFIT: THREE REASONS WHY YOU CAN'T AFFORD TO NOT HAVE DIVERSE TEAMS

Practically speaking, diversity has immediate benefits. This could be the understandings of different cultures. Belch & Belch list an example in their textbook that tells the story of KFC moving into Asia. Their slogan “Finger Lickin’ Good” when directly translated, turned into “Eat Your Fingers Off”. A diverse PR team could have saved wasted resources spent on a scary sounding slogan. A bilingual team, in addition to avoiding scary slogans, can also help a firm effectively reach an entirely new demographic. In addition to these benefits, diverse teams can also produce a wider variety of ideas, allow for more risk-tolerance, and create more profit.


Consider the Silk Road. The Silk Road was a network of trade routes which connected much of Europe, Asia, and Africa in ancient times, and was central to the economic, cultural, political, and religious interactions between these regions. The interactions between people on the Silk Road gave us many of the things we use today including advances in astronomy, language, and philosophy. Diverse teams needed to work together to trade and because of this, there was a free flow of information between cultures.


          Diverse teams cause people to question preexisting assumptions. With homogeneous teams, there tends to be more Groupthink, meaning people are more inclined to agree with the group, reducing their risk of standing out. With diverse groups, there is already a “stand-out” factor, meaning people are more willing to risk disagreement with the group. This leads to a more diverse and creative set of ideas presented. As long as the team is well managed and have the same set of values, the team will succeed. Joan Williams, professor and the founding director of the Center for Work-Life Thought at the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law speaks with Harvard Business Review Ideacast Host on this topic:


“It’s now been well-documented that well-managed diverse groups simply perform better.  They have a broader range of ideas.  They’re not an echo chamber.” (Beard, 2020)


It has also been documented that diverse teams lead to better bottom lines. Diversity, whether in gender, race, experience, or cultural background, has been proven for decades to increase profitability in firms (Grant,   A., Rock, D., & Grey, J. 2016). Firms with more racial and gender diversity, had more sales revenue, customers and profits according to a 2009 analysis by Cedric Herring (Sage, 2009). Another analysis of more than 20,000 firms in 91 countries found that companies with more female executives were also more profitable.


Although diversity can make it feel as though the communication processed is slowed down by the reviewing of ideas, the refinement of the final idea can give firms a greater edge.




Beard, A. (2020, June 01). A New Way to Combat Bias at Work. Retrieved August 11, 2020, from https://hbr.org/podcast/2020/01/a-new-way-to-combat-bias-at-work


Did You Know?: Mathematical Sciences along the Silk Roads. (n.d.). Retrieved August 11, 2020, from https://en.unesco.org/silkroad/content/did-you-know-mathematical-sciences-along-silk-roads


Grant,   A., Rock, D., & Grey, J. (2016, September 22). Diverse Teams Feel Less Comfortable - and That's Why They Perform Better. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2016/09/diverse-teams-feel-less-comfortable-and-thats-why-they-perform-better


Herring, C. (2009). Does Diversity Pay?: Race, Gender, and the Business Case for                Diversity. American Sociological Review, 74(2), 208–224. https://doi.org/10.1177/000312240907400203

Hands Up

INNOVATION, RANGE, AND PROFIT: THREE REASONS WHY YOU CAN'T AFFORD TO NOT HAVE DIVERSE TEAMS

Practically speaking, diversity has immediate benefits. This could be the understandings of different cultures. Belch & Belch list an example in their textbook that tells the story of KFC moving into Asia. Their slogan “Finger Lickin’ Good” when directly translated, turned into “Eat Your Fingers Off”. A diverse PR team could have saved wasted resources spent on a scary sounding slogan. A bilingual team, in addition to avoiding scary slogans, can also help a firm effectively reach an entirely new demographic. In addition to these benefits, diverse teams can also produce a wider variety of ideas, allow for more risk-tolerance, and create more profit.


Consider the Silk Road. The Silk Road was a network of trade routes which connected much of Europe, Asia, and Africa in ancient times, and was central to the economic, cultural, political, and religious interactions between these regions. The interactions between people on the Silk Road gave us many of the things we use today including advances in astronomy, language, and philosophy. Diverse teams needed to work together to trade and because of this, there was a free flow of information between cultures.


          Diverse teams cause people to question preexisting assumptions. With homogeneous teams, there tends to be more Groupthink, meaning people are more inclined to agree with the group, reducing their risk of standing out. With diverse groups, there is already a “stand-out” factor, meaning people are more willing to risk disagreement with the group. This leads to a more diverse and creative set of ideas presented. As long as the team is well managed and have the same set of values, the team will succeed. Joan Williams, professor and the founding director of the Center for Work-Life Thought at the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law speaks with Harvard Business Review Ideacast Host on this topic:


“It’s now been well-documented that well-managed diverse groups simply perform better.  They have a broader range of ideas.  They’re not an echo chamber.” (Beard, 2020)


It has also been documented that diverse teams lead to better bottom lines. Diversity, whether in gender, race, experience, or cultural background, has been proven for decades to increase profitability in firms (Grant,   A., Rock, D., & Grey, J. 2016). Firms with more racial and gender diversity, had more sales revenue, customers and profits according to a 2009 analysis by Cedric Herring (Sage, 2009). Another analysis of more than 20,000 firms in 91 countries found that companies with more female executives were also more profitable.


Although diversity can make it feel as though the communication processed is slowed down by the reviewing of ideas, the refinement of the final idea can give firms a greater edge.




Beard, A. (2020, June 01). A New Way to Combat Bias at Work. Retrieved August 11, 2020, from https://hbr.org/podcast/2020/01/a-new-way-to-combat-bias-at-work


Did You Know?: Mathematical Sciences along the Silk Roads. (n.d.). Retrieved August 11, 2020, from https://en.unesco.org/silkroad/content/did-you-know-mathematical-sciences-along-silk-roads


Grant,   A., Rock, D., & Grey, J. (2016, September 22). Diverse Teams Feel Less Comfortable - and That's Why They Perform Better. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2016/09/diverse-teams-feel-less-comfortable-and-thats-why-they-perform-better


Herring, C. (2009). Does Diversity Pay?: Race, Gender, and the Business Case for                Diversity. American Sociological Review, 74(2), 208–224. https://doi.org/10.1177/000312240907400203

Image by Jonas Lee

IS COMPARATIVE ADVERTISING WORTH THE RISK?

In an article titled “Chobani unveils media campaign to support Simply 100 Greek yogurt: ‘It’s a choice between natural and artificial’” author Elaine Watson outlines a tumultuous attempt at comparative advertising between two yogurt brand giants. Chobani, one of the top brands in yogurt, attacked Light + Fit Greek, claiming that an ingredient used in the yogurt was also used in bug killer. Light + Fit Greek responded “We intend to pursue all available remedies to address Chobani’s misleading and irresponsible advertising” (Watson, 2016). Although this seems to have had minimal effect on Chobani’s brand, it’s worth asking the question: Is comparative advertising worth it?


The Mac vs PC commercial will always be the first example of Comparative Advertising I think of. I have a distinct memory of watching the ads as a 10 year-old and feeling very sad for the poor PC, and angry with Apple for making fun of him. This was because my family had a PC because of the affordability of it and Apple is very much a premium brand. This made young Dominique feel a little dorky and financially inferior for having a PC. For years (and to this day) I won’t use a Mac. This aligns with one of the reasons some experts advise against running comparative ads. They can solidify users of an opposing product into their current view. Belch & Belch review this on page 209 of the their textbook Introduction to advertising and promotion: an integrated marketing communications perspective. No one wants to feel silly because they made the wrong purchase decision, and running comparative/negative ads can make consumers feel that way. However, I watched some of the Mac vs PC ads just now, and I laughed out loud at some of them. I liked some of the features they had, and Justin Long is great for the role. Now that I’m older, in a better place financially, and have used Apple products for work, I am more likely to consider them. My needs and experiences have changed since I was 10. I am now more likely to consider a Mac because of some of the features they listed in the ads I watched.


Comparative ads tend to also be better for brands with a smaller market share. Brands like Lume for example can position themselves right alongside with larger brands such as Dove, Degree, or Secret. Without comparing their advantages, we might not be as inclined to try a new brand. Psychologically, many people root for the underdog. We also tend to think that if a smaller brand is willing to go head to head with a Goliath of a brand, they must have something good going for them and we like the bold nature of it.


Comparative ads do tend to not go over well with older audiences (Belch& Belch, 209). This could be because older audiences are more accustomed to the products they have been using and feel work well for them, and again, people don’t like to be told they’re wrong. Younger audiences are more receptive to comparative ads for the opposite reason (Belch & Belch, 209). Young people tend to be early adopters of new products and comparative ads bode better with them. They can see the benefits in the ad, they can reject the societal norm or standard answer, and try something new. I am making lots of generalizations here but these are historically the generalizations we make about these age groups.


As a whole, comparative ads are seen as very risky. There are all kinds of reasons a comparative ad could backfire. From user perspective to opposing brand retaliation, comparative ads can seriously hurt a brand. If I were advising a client that wanted to run one of these ads, there would have to be lots of research on our target audience, feelings toward competitor brands, and cultural feelings toward both brands. But after all, no risk, no reward!


References


Belch, G. E., & Belch, M. A. (1997). Introduction to advertising and promotion: an integrated marketing communications perspective. Pg. 609-610, 618 Chicago, IL: Irwin.


Watson, E. (2016, January 06). Chobani unveils media campaign to support Simply 100 Greek yogurt: 'It's a choice between natural and artificial'. Retrieved August 11, 2020, from https://www.foodnavigator-usa.com/Article/2016/01/06/Chobani-unveils-campaign-to-support-Simply-100-Greek-yogurt?utm_source=copyright&utm_medium=OnSite&utm_campaign=copyright

The Wall of Ideas

BRAINSTORMING: IS IT HELPING OR HURTING?

Too many chefs in the kitchen is never a good thing. My hometown is considered the Snack Food Capital of the World, we have lots of Utz Chips, Martins Chips, Hershey’s chocolate, Snyder’s Pretzels, etc. Imagine if just one of these companies had changed their recipes because someone thought there was too much salt on the chips or the chocolate was too sweet. Everyone of these companies has two or fewer founders. In fact, I don’t know of any company that has more than 3 founders. This is because there can be major issues when too many people are involved in a project. First, too many people being involved in a project can indicate a lack of trust in the initial person hired for the project. If my boss asked me to handle a project and then assigned three other people to “brainstorm” with me, I would assume she didn’t think I could handle it, at which point I would feel she doesn’t trust me and I would lose trust in her. As Mark Duffy says in his article Copyranter: Ban Brainstorming, “Brainstorming is for people who don’t know a good idea when they see it.”. Secondly, many people in a group can get exactly what Duffy described “sadistic pleasure in killing or drastically altering talented creatives’ creative”. When a creative comes up with a new idea, there will always, always be someone there to say “Well that won’t work because…” so that they can be the one with the good idea in the end. Finally, this leads to the end product, which is a boring, could-have-come-up-with-this-in-my-sleep idea. “This will not produce good work, but it will produce something safe and expected,”. People are not naturally risk takers, it’s not how we survive. Therefore, the more people in the room, the less risk that will be taken on an idea. No one wants to hear the phrase “Did you approve this?” after a risky campaign. Brainstorming; “It’s for revisers, not creators.”

Dominique Carbaugh
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