Lynne Johnson on the Importance of Code and Culture Switching

By Matt Van Hoven Comment

We started off the third segment of our interview with Lynne Johnson, SVP of social media at the Advertising Research Foundation, discussing code and culture switching. Johnson says that this practice, which boils down to using different voices (vernacular, lingo, vocabulary) when communicating with culturally diverse segments of a particular market, is vital to an adept social media strategy.

But what about when one culture borrows for another in the name of humor? Take Toyota’s ‘Swagger Wagon‘ &#151 prominent blogger KissMyBlackAds wrote of the ad, “Is this a cool comedic concept or a mindless modern mockery?”

“It’s totally misappropriating what swag is,” added Johnson. “Swag is Jay-z.”

The problem facing brands is determining how to appeal to a broad audience without being overtly offensive or, on the flip side, mundane. So, can a brand make everyone happy? Johnson says no way. She believes the 2010 Census will change how agencies perceive their clients’ target markets. “It is going to get tricky because the mainstream might be minorities…so what does mainstream look like?”

Lynne Johnson explores “How We Manage Social Media” in her upcoming panel discussion at Mediabistro Circus on May 20 in New York.

Part 1: Lynne Johnson Explains the Advertising Research Foundation’s Role

Part 2: Highly-tuned Privacy Laws a “Potentially Scary Road” for Advertisers

Part 3: Lynne Johnson on the Importance of Code and Culture Switching