Multicultural Experience



Five years ago, I started one of the most challenging moves of my life—I was moving to the United States and looking to start a new life.

Since I’m a foreigner and English is my second language, you would think that the language was my main concern. Right? No. Of course, working in a second language is a challenge, but after years working in Brazil creating campaigns in Portuguese and dealing with Brazilian audiences and their culture–the culture I was used to since I was born, I had to switch gears and learn a totally different culture. Believe me—even with a huge influence of American culture, it was not easy.

On one hand, it gave me a different perspective of US culture. I could observe points and nuances that Americans are so used to that sometimes they don’t even notice.

Also, as both a creative and cultural analyst, part of my job is to work on different campaigns dealing with diverse audiences—providing insights and direction in developing effective design and content. I believe it is a true asset to have a multicultural analyst on staff at an agency because understanding audiences and cultures is an important part of every company’s brand. Besides thinking about the target’s age, gender, financial status, behavior, etc. we must understand the culture and lifestyle of our audience. Without this lens, you would be missing a key part of understanding your consumer when developing your brand marketing strategy.

One example of our multicultural work was with the 2020 Census campaign. To achieve effective results, we had to segment the campaign’s audiences by ethnic and racial make-up—layering that on-top of other audience segmentation broken out by geography, socioeconomic conditions, and cultural lifestyles. A key part of this was working together with local community-based organizations who were trusted messengers and understood the cultural differences. Focus groups and interviews with these organizations helped us build relevant and authentic messaging which was then integrated into the campaign’s creative and implementation strategy.

We identified that a huge portion of the lack of census responses came from immigrants that didn’t understand English, who didn’t know what census was,  and who were concerned about giving their personal information—especially about their visa situation.

Aware of these concerns, we worked together with local communities’ organizations and created simplified messages—reinforcing that all information was totally confidential. We didn’t just translate the creative collateral.  We adjusted the languages, images, and slang to match each specific culture.

The success of this approach can be seen in the numbers. Illinois was ranked as the 7th state with most self-responded rate at 71.4%–very close to the 1st place state of Minnesota with 75.1%. The Illinois counties that partnered with DCC had great content engagement with an average of 70% self-responded rate. Six of those counties were in the Top 10 census response results for the state of Illinois.


If you want to know more about our multicultural experience or would like to view our case studies, check out our Multicultural Marketing blog post or view our Portfolio page.

Erasmo Bussolin
Senior Art Director
DCC Marketing

University of Illinois SNAP-Education Selects DCC Marketing for Statewide Social Marketing Campaign

Chicago, IL – University of Illinois SNAP-Education has selected DCC Marketing to guide and develop a statewide social marketing campaign. The SNAP-Education program provides practical healthy eating and physical activity solutions for Illinois families and forms strategic partnerships locally, regionally and across the state to transform the health of limited-resource families in Illinois. In Illinois, SNAP-Education is provided through University of Illinois Extension and University of Illinois at Chicago’s Chicago Partnership for Health Promotion.

“We are excited to have DCC Marketing as our partner for this important project. Their work for the 2020 Census gave us great confidence in their ability to deliver strategic messaging that resonates with our target audiences—particularly their ability to inspire action in low-income and hard-to-count populations. They also have strong relationships with community-based organizations that will support our efforts,” said Beth Peralta, Media Communications Specialist, University of Illinois Extension.

According to state statistics, 1 in 8 households live in poverty and 13% of households receive SNAP benefits to supplement food shopping. The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted the need for assistance with estimates of food insecure individuals reaching 50 million across the country—a 43% increase.

DCC Marketing will provide campaign messaging for SNAP-Education that focuses on the following goals:
• Improve the diet quality and increase physical activity of SNAP eligible families to promote overall health, reduce chronic disease and achieve healthy body weight.
• Increase food access opportunities for SNAP eligible families within identified communities to alleviate food insecurity.

Additionally, DCC Marketing will play a role in evaluating needs, resources and opportunities with agency partners across the state and grassroots engagement with participants. “I couldn’t be more honored to work on a project that will have such an impact throughout our state. Nutrition and physical activity are at the heart of wellness, but making lasting change in behavior is rarely a simple process. The education programs delivered through SNAP-Ed can change lives and improve the health of our underserved communities.” said Kara Demirjian Huss, President of DCC Marketing.

DCC is a full service agency that bridges the gap from strategy to execution reaching multicultural, multilingual audiences effectively. We are located in Chicago and Decatur, IL and certified both as an Illinois Women-Owned Business Enterprise (WBE) and by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC).

As reported on Yahoo! Finance, Markets Insider, AP News, Benzinga, MarketWatch, Daily Herald

Looking Forward: 2021

A look back at 2020 and a look forward into 2021 with Melissa Amedeo

In a pandemic year, advertising became more important than ever. While some companies may have looked to cut media spending, those who continued to advertise likely saw huge benefits in staying in-market with their messaging in 2020. Understanding audience behaviors and leveraging insights will continue to be critical to successful marketing in 2021.

Q: What were some of the strategies companies used in 2020 and how do you see those strategies continuing into 2021?

  1. One of the largest trends I saw was related to influencer marketing.  
  • A shining example that sticks in my mind is the skateboarder drinking Ocean Spray cranberry juice while singing a Fleetwood Mac song. The video went viral and was turned into a TV commercial. I loved the spirit and recognition Nathan Apodaca received from his original video. Social engagements by both Ocean Spray and Mick Fleetwood were even included in the ad that was produced.
  • At DCC, we saw the need to shift to influencer marketing with our 2020 US Census work as well.  When the pandemic hit, the door-to-door grassroots marketing efforts were affected. Utilizing a network of over 360 community organizations throughout the state of Illinois, we were able to produce videos that could be used in digital marketing campaigns. These community influencers represented people across the state of Illinois as they talked about the social issues that were most important to diverse population segments. The city of Chicago alone has 77 local neighborhoods—each with their own community issues, concerns, and influences.

Influencer marketing will continue to grow in 2021, and TikTok is a platform that is becoming increasingly relevant. TikTok may primarily be a GenZ platform, but with 80% of these users influencing their parents’ purchases and 47% of TikTok users making a purchase based on what they saw in TikTok content (TikTok: For Business X AdAge Studio 30), understanding the power of this social platform will be critical in the upcoming year.

  1. A second trend we saw in 2020 with more people being home was the explosion of Over the Top TV (OTT)
  • The pandemic accelerated the trend of people leaving pay TV for streaming services such as HULU, Netflix, Disney+, Roku, Amazon Fire, etc.  
  • This created a vast opportunity for advertisers to shift to these platforms as pay TV households are expected to continue to decline. The number of US Pay TV households will decline 7.5% to 77.6 million this year. The non-pay TV household total, which combines cord-cutters and cord-nevers, will reach 51.7 million. (US Digital Video 2020 Pandemic Boosts Streaming Video View, emarketer)

For 2021 and beyond this trend is poised to continue so it will increasingly become a place for advertisers to allocate marketing dollars. As an industry OTT is expected to grow to 222 million US subscription viewers by 2024. (US Digital Video 2020 Pandemic Boosts Streaming Video View, emarketer)

  1. A third trend which ties to both of the above is video content
  • Millennial and Gen Z consumers are the most connected age groups to the internet and watching videos is their preferred way to be entertained or learn new things. When it comes to advertising to Gen Z, 87% of Gen Z prefers ads or marketing content that shows actual people discussing products. 
  • YouTube users watch 1 billion hours worth of videos every day. But they are not the only social channel where video engagement is exploding. LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and let’s not forget TikTok many of these platforms are seeing Video as the #1 form of media used in content strategy, overtaking blogs and infographics. And promotional videos and brand storytelling videos are the most common.  (Hubspot)

Look for video to continue to lead the way in content for 2021. Marketers will need to find a way to ensure they transition to a “video first” mentality and find an agency who is skilled at creating engaging videos in an affordable way. We’ve been working with many of our clients to solve this exact challenge. (see our demo reel) If video is not part of your marketing tactics, prioritizing it in 2021 will be critical

  1. A fourth trend is Artificial Intelligence (AI)
  • Google Ads continues to hone their capabilities and help marketers optimize campaigns. The past few years has seen dramatic advancement in managing pay-per-click (PPC) advertising budgets. 
  • Automation tools are decreasing the need for manual bid optimization. And optimization is not just a Google Ads tool any more.  Facebook has gotten into the dynamic ad serving, automation learning game with the ability to serve Dynamic Creative quickly resulting in the ability to serve hundreds, if not thousands, of ad variations to your target audiences. 

Look for this automation to continue to hone its reliability even further over the next few years.

  1. The last trend I want to discuss is around the type of creative we’ve seen in social ads
  • We already discussed the importance of having a video content plan, but brands have an opportunity to build other interactive creative assets that will engage audiences and can leverage the ad automation for creative optimization discussed above.
  • Create and test different types of ad formats against your audiences
    • Static
    • Carousel
    • Collections
    • Sponsored content
    • Messenger ads
    • Text message ads
    • Gifs

As you build out strategy, messaging and creative in 2021, understand your audiences and develop creative that can be served dynamically to your customers. Optimize and monitor the creative continuing to leverage the creative that works best with your audience as you guide them through their journey to your brand.

Melissa Amedeo
Chief Development Officer
DCC Marketing

Multicultural Marketing

The United States of America has one of the most diversified and culturally complex identities in the world. Since the European colonization, the United States has been receiving millions of immigrants from all over the world, resulting in a blending of cultural backgrounds.

Nowadays, from the 327.2 million people living in the US, 44.7 million are immigrants1. That means that almost 15% of the population has a diverse heritage, which reflects on their behavior, opinion, religion, tradition, and art. This percentage grows even more if we count the next generation of these immigrants. Even though these people are US natives, they are raised under their parent’s cultural influence as well. According to the Migration Policy Institute, about a quarter of US children live with at least one immigrant parent.

Although there are habits and values that the population usually shares (American or foreign-born), it is important not to generalize or take for granted that everybody thinks differently. That is why it’s essential to have a multicultural approach in marketing.

What is Multicultural Marketing?

Multicultural Marketing is the ability to identify, understand and of course respect the different behaviors in different ethnic groups and apply this knowledge to a marketing campaign. It considers and reaches out to one or more culturally diverse audiences instead of just the primary culture in a certain location.

With multicultural consumers growing fast in the United States, we can assume investments in multicultural marketing are already high. However, the reality is not enough money is spent to reach these consumers, as current multicultural investments represent only 5.2% of the total spent in media.

How can we explore this marketing segment?

As any marketing strategy, we need to research the cross-cultural differences of all of our target audiences, allowing us to identify and understand their behavior, interests and desires.

With all this information in hand, we are able to select the appropriate culturally-specific messaging for the campaign, matching it to the audience’s cultural references, such as traditions, language, festivities, instead of the regular marketing campaigns that usually overlook the aspects of diversity and just translate the message.

For example, the audience may speak English, but they’ll appreciate it if you adjust the message to their native language and their culture. And I mean, not literally translating it, but speaking in a way that feels personal, adjusting the language and the references to their cultural background. It could be represented by a same culture person, a cultural icon, regional slang, a place, artistic manifestation, etc. They will not only appreciate it, but they will feel represented, developing a connection to your campaign and brand.

You should be careful and avoid stereotypes.

Often, brands rely on cultural stereotypes to deliver their message—which can turn off audiences. A deep understanding of the culture and their references is necessary. A simple misunderstanding or lack of sensitivity could be disrespectful, offending the audience and ruining the efforts.

So do your homework, research, collect data, interview people, create a focus group, and partner with community influencers.

Let us help you reach your audience and achieve a successful result in your next campaign! Contact us.

1U.S. Census 2018 American Community Survey.

Erasmo Bussolin
Senior Art Director
DCC Marketing

Is Your Brand Color Palette the Right Fit For You?

Color plays an intricate part of setting the visual tone of how your brand is perceived by your target audiences. Color can represent and elicit an emotional response as well as have an effect on your behavior. Your brand archetype, core values, message strategy and target audiences provide valuable context when selecting your color palette. First, it is important to define who you are, what you stand for, and what sets you apart as a brand. Color plays a significant role as a visual language, so it is crucial to clearly understand the cultural differences and demographic breakdowns of those you’re reaching. 

Color theory acts as a guide that allows us to understand how different colors are perceived. Color psychology allows us to understand the various ways color can affect behavior and emotions based on culture and context. Not everyone relates to colors in the same way, however there are a few universal connotations that may be used as a general guide when selecting your brand color.

Red: A bold and dynamic color often representing passion, love, energy and is described to stimulate appetite. Red also connotes action, ambition, anger and determination.

Orange: A secondary color that combines the energy and passion of red with the joy and positivity of yellow. Orange attracts attention, shows fun and activity. It also promotes communication and motivation.

Yellow: A bright and positive color. Yellow connotes youth, positivity, hope, fun and optimism. Yellow, in a different context, also is associated with fear, anxiety, caution and danger.

Green: The secondary color of green often represents ideas of balance, harmony and nature. It combines yellow’s positivity and blue’s dependability to imply stability and growth.

Blue: Blue is known to convey trust, integrity and loyalty. Blue is a very soothing, reliable and peaceful color.

Purple: Purple combines the power of red, with the dependability of blue. It connotes imagination, creativity and spirituality. Purple often is used to represent luxury, opulence, power, mystery and magic.

Women In Leadership

This week, we sat with our fearless leader Kara Demirjian Huss to ask for her take on women in leadership for Day of the Girl. We wanted to know what advice she had for young aspirational women.

Q:  Define a great leader—what are some traits you think great leaders possess?

A: Great leaders listen. They promote collaboration and training, motivate and encourage, and communicate early and often. Great leaders have a clear vision, so it is very important that they communicate their vision well so that everyone is pushing the wheel together and understands how their roles impact the overall goals of the company.

They are thinkers and doers—activating and participating in change not just talking about it. They can be trusted and empower others effectively. Great leaders have a sense of purpose, strong values and a partnership / collaborative mindset. 

Q: What are some strategies that can help women achieve a more prominent role in their organizations?

A:  First, be confident and work hard. No matter what your gender or race these are two must have characteristics. Second, find networks and mentors in and out of your business. This support network, peer-learning, and commitment to your growth will help you develop both personally and professionally.

Try to challenge yourself. Take on those hard projects. Speak with intent and build your credibility. Always be responsive. If you foster a positive , motivational can-do attitude, others notice, and you will be surprised by how much this can impact your growth.

Q:   What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership?

A: Confidence. You have to believe in yourself. Don’t just walk into a room—walk with confidence, poise, and positivity.

It, also, depends on an individual’s mindset. Women tend to put a lot of pressure on themselves for work/life balance. This balance is for you to define—not someone else. Define your goals, believe in yourself and others, and use your resources to help you achieve your highest potential.

Q: Name a woman who inspires you and why?

A: There are so many inspirational women out there, but when I think about what impacts me, it is the women who shine with beauty and business know-how or who were able to transform change. Icons like Marilyn Monroe, Georgia O’Keefe, Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosa Parks, Audrey Hepburn…the list goes on.

Q: What’s one leadership lesson you’ve learned in your career?

A: Have all of your ducks in a row. Listen more than you talk. You were given two ears and one mouth for a reason. Make sure you have done your research and can see beyond barriers. Don’t develop tunnel vision and never burn a bridge.

Building Up—Mentoring Women In Business

Throughout my career, I have been lucky to have people along the way take me under their wing coaching and mentoring me. None of the mentoring I received was through a formal program, rather, it was a vested interest, a sisterhood of the previous generation reaching back to help the next generation forward. I have always informally worked to pay that forward. Whether it’s working with someone who is reporting directly into me to help them in their career goals, coaching them to be better presenters and listeners, challenging them to think deeper or working with colleagues in the same way, being their sounding board.

When I was approached last fall to be part of starting a non-profit mentoring organization, I was excited to immediately commit to this initiative. It takes a passion I have for helping others and allows me to formally pay it forward. I am excited to announce that over the past year I have been working with some amazing, strong, smart, women who also believe in helping other women. In March we were planning to launch our non-profit organization which is committed to the mentorship process. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic we had to push back our launch, but we are now officially going live. If you want to be a part of helping other women follow us on LinkedIn @BuildingUp.Club or visit our website to learn about mentoring opportunities.

Mentoring offers advantages to both the mentor and the mentee. I know personally when I have mentored other individuals and see them thrive, it brings great satisfaction to me. As a mentee, I have received priceless guidance regarding my career, my attitude, my ability to accept constructive criticism and to become more humble looking at someone else’s perspective.

Mentoring or being a mentee requires a growth mindset. It also requires an openness to give and receive feedback and a commitment to the relationship and the process.

Melissa Amedeo
Chief Development Officer
DCC Marketing

Building Brand & Marketing Strategies

Whether you are building a brand, messaging strategy, go-to-market plan, or reinventing/expanding your position in the market—it’s a Science and An Art.  As you prepare to develop your strategy, it is critical to begin with the end in mind and ask yourself, your team, and your audience the important questions that will ultimately lay the foundation for driving your creative and guiding your integrated marketing plan. Here are a few tips to get started.

  • Evaluate—Start by asking what does success look like? How will I measure success? What do I want my audience to see, do, and feel? What do we do better (and worse) than our competition? Why does my audience need my product or service? What is the market potential? What are the competitor product pricing models and how does that compare to mine? What trends and economic conditions will affect my opportunities and threaten my success?
  • Identify—Who is my audience? Who is my competition? Where is my biggest opportunity for reach? What are the behaviors and interests of my audience? Who else is selling to this audience that I could partner with? Is my audience aware of my company and product? What does my audience think of my product(s) and company? What processes and people do I need to put in place (or change) to achieve my goals? What are the current benchmarks I am measuring against?
  • Create—It’s hard to create a consistently winning brand and message strategy without taking the time to research the steps and questions as laid out above, but once you do, the magic happens. Your brand develops a voice, a story, and a strategy both in content and design. Remember that pretty pictures are no good if they aren’t built on strategy, communicated to your employees, or answering the important question from your customers of “so what?”
  • Action & Assess—You’ve done your homework, and now, you can put a realistic and effective integrated marketing plan around your efforts. You have defined benchmarks to measure against and a tactical plan around each communication vehicle—working them into a unified content strategy on a timeline and within a budget. You can remain focused on driving your goals on paid, earned, social, and owned with a plan built from a customer-facing lens. Good pre-planning and regular monitoring are critical for success!

Good luck! And if you need help hugging the hippo, let’s talk 😉

Kara Demirjian Huss

Connect with Kara

What Lifts You?

During these trying times, it’s important to stay positive, get fresh air, and appreciate the things that lift our souls. The DCC team took time to reflect on the question “what lifts you?” while visiting the new downtown mural recently commissioned in Decatur, IL.

“I am inspired by great leaders, warm smiles, positive attitudes, generosity and kindness. Surrounding myself with family and friends that are always there to help one another soar to new heights and navigate this wonderful life!”
– Kara Demirjian Huss

“My family, friends and helping others. For almost 10 years, I’ve supported a local charity which provides a literacy grant program for kids in our local school districts ( I’m also looking forward to the September launch of a mentoring organization for women where I’m partnering with some amazing women in Chicago ( It’s a small way to pay it forward for those who have mentored me throughout my career.”
– Melissa Amedeo

“I love seeing all the creativity of everyone around me. It elevates me by giving me new perspectives to see the world in which I influence.”
– EJ Panganiban

“Hope is what lifts me. I am unrelentingly, probably unrealistically, always hopeful that the future will be better. That my family, my friends and the world in general will be OK. That glimmer of hope is what keeps me going.”
– Jennifer Sekosky

“If someone feels I helped make their day better, easier, brighter, or happier in some small way; that is what lifts me.”
– Brandy Robinson

“Selflessness, I really enjoy helping others and simply making people smile & feel loved. Knowing that I helped someone in some way is always a good feeling. Another thing that lifts me is music, anytime & anywhere. Music has the ability to improve my mood, relieve stress, and overall just makes me feel happier.”
– Monica Metzger

“Joy, laughter and beauty in faces/places/experiences. Something that makes me smile and cheers my day so that I can pass that along and share that hope with others. Searching for the bits of God’s light scattered throughout the darkness is what lifts me.”
– Pam Morrow

“Laugh! For me that’s the answer for everything. It could be a simple conversation, a meme or watching a comedy movie. I always look for moments on my day to joke to make others and myself laugh. It’s a scientific fact that laughing relieves stress. So try it! Another thing that has a tremendous influence on my mood is MUSIC. It has the power to make me sad, makes me reflect, brings back memories and, of course, lifts me up!”
– Erasmo Bussolin

“I’m always wanting to make the most of my time, not only keeping myself busy but constantly evolving as the years go by. Like my favorite quote, “Sometimes I can hear my bones straining under the weight of all the lives I’m not living (Jonathan Safran Foer).” Nothing is more fulfilling to me than the pursuit of knowledge, the spark of creativity, and the thrill of adventure. I want to leave no stone un-turned, no path un-followed. My curiosity has me continually searching for new information, new insights, and new perspectives, and I have been so blessed to have the loving support of those around me. My family and friends motivate and inspire me even when I’m not always sure of the correct path. For me, my direction is always forward—though my nose often gets stuck in a book.”
– Rachael Coyle

“Staying connected with close friends and nature. No matter what struggles I encounter throughout my life, even just a short video chat with one of my close friends or a walk through the woods instantly lifts my mood. The COVID-19 pandemic has made me appreciate these friendships even more by showing me that when I take away all outside distractions, the people that I surround myself with makes all the difference in my happiness.”
– Evelyn Demirjian

“Live, laugh, love, ok now that people have stopped reading what lifts me is really just 450mg of Wellbutrin and death metal.”
– Lacey Maulding

Giving Is Good For the Soul

Giving—it’s good for your soul.

Community. To me, it is a way to come together, to unite. Uniting for the wellbeing of others and ourselves. Giving back and being involved in philanthropy is something that has been rooted in my family for generations. No matter your position or status you can always find a way to give and make a difference. This comes in many forms—giving time, resources, kindness, support, money. Creating a culture of giving in your home and business provides an important sense of purpose that permeates all areas of your life. Teaching kindness and giving to your children will help cultivate empathy and generosity at an early age that will last a lifetime. We need more of this now more than ever.

The same is true in the office. As a leader, encouraging generosity and involvement is critical. But you can’t just talk about it—you need to lead by example and integrate it into your work culture. People always ask me how I have time to dedicate to boards and my response is, “I make time, it is incredibly important to me and my family.” Immersing myself in my community gives me a unique perspective and opens my eyes to the world around me. Working alongside others who care about our surroundings is one of the most rewarding parts. I have gained so much from listening to others perspectives—communication skills, patience, and resilience just to name a few. My experience working with so many diverse teams, board of directors, and community volunteers has helped me navigate life better in every way.

I find things I am passionate about such as education, youth, mentorship, nutrition, healthcare, economic development and find ways to make actionable change. Sometimes, that is with my personal time, skills and resources—other times it is financial support. I love to see others passionate about programs and initiatives—it truly gets me fired up to participate along with them. Lead a charge, be a trailblazer and you will see the results from so many people coming together for a common cause. I guarantee this is as good for your soul as it is for others. Sharing your passions together and inspiring others can help shape our communities around us. So get out there and give.

Kara Demirjian Huss

Connect with Kara

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