Creating a New Virtual World Free of Physical Limitation and Societal Stereotypes

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Cover image for  article: Creating a New Virtual World Free of Physical Limitation and Societal Stereotypes

The first day of the 2022 ANA Multicultural Marketing & Diversity Conference, November 6-8 in Hollywood, FL, will focus on multicultural marketing in the Metaverse. While the Metaverse is for everyone, there are potential DEI issues that impact representation and access. Desi Okeke (pictured at top), Director Degree Deodorant at Unilever, recently spoke with ANA Senior Director Gena Casciano about the creation of the Degree Metathon and how this Metaverse activation enabled consumers to do things and see themselves in ways they never have before.

Gena Casciano: Tell us about the Degree Metathon and how you used the Metaverse to create a marathon experience that was open to all.

Desi Okeke: We viewed the Degree® Metathon as a test and a foray into the metaverse which we know is and will continue to be a vital place for us to connect with consumers. For Degree® this was a ripe space for us to insert our purpose, which is to "Inspire Confidence in Everyone to Move More." Our goal was to elevate the differently abled, the plus-sized and various genders and ethnicities and create a safe space where if desired they can represent their true selves. Inclusion of adaptable wearables like prosthetics, wheelchairs, etc., made it possible for this community to be seen and heard.

Casciano: Building on your success with the Metathon, what are your plans to create a more inclusive Metaverse?

Okeke: We were so encouraged by the success and interest that we are working with experts in the industry to create a long-term strategy that allows us to continue our mission to drive change in the Metaverse and have it be more reflective of real world. We are just getting started and not done yet!

Casciano: What other multicultural Metaverse activations have you seen that have broken through and that you admire?

Okeke: Dove® has been building their purpose campaign on real beauty and self-esteem with women for many years and most recently moved their fight to the Metaverse -- specifically the gaming space. Here women are in many cases shown as one dimensional (body shape, abilities, ethnicity, etc.). There are many stereotypes to break down and Dove® has taken on the need to show our girls there are alternatives and that you can truly be who you want to be.

Casciano: What are the key action steps / practices that have helped your company improve the diversity within your marketing department?

Okeke: Creating a very intentional plan with DEI at the cornerstone of our brand say and brand do. Clarity on who we will serve and how. Bringing our choices through the line in casting, influencers, brand do/NGOs, engagement activations and crafting of our mix. Having a healthy check and balance throughout the year to ensure we are standing by our principles.

Casciano: You will be speaking at the ANA Multicultural Marketing & Diversity Conference. What are you looking forward to learning while there (or, who are you looking forward to hearing from?)

Okeke: No. 1 goal for me is to connect in with peers and be exposed to the great work happening. Second is to make 1-3 meaningful connections of which we can continue to learn and motivate each other as we move through this space. No one said change is easy so partnering with like-minded people who also see the value can go a long way.

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