Top Marketing Execs From Target and Viacom Offer a Candid Take on Inclusivity

Rick Gomez and Pam Kaufman discuss why they push forward even when there's pushback

Pam Kaufman and Rick Gomez
Pam Kaufman, president of global consumer products for Viacom and Nickelodeon, and Rick Gomez, chief marketing and digital officer for Target, interview each other.
Trent Joaquin for Adweek

Inclusivity is arguably one of the hottest topics among marketers. Curious to see how it’s playing out with two of the world’s biggest brands, we asked Rick Gomez, chief marketing and digital officer for Target, and Pam Kaufman, president of global consumer products for Viacom and Nickelodeon, to interview each other.

In the discussion, they dive deep into their respective inclusivity programs, touching on body image, adaptive Halloween costumes and the world of influencers, and talk candidly about how inclusion can be challenging from a leadership perspective and across their organizations. They also reinforce why inclusivity truly starts on the inside.

This conversation was originally recorded on the CMO Moves podcast and has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.

Rick Gomez: Since I’ve known you, you got promoted with more significant responsibilities. [Kaufman was promoted in May 2018 from her position as president of consumer products and CMO for Nickelodeon.] It’s now global. Do you want to talk about how that transition has gone?

Pam Kaufman: In the last year and a half, I have enjoyed learning the international marketplace. You know, I grew up at Viacom. Before, I was the CMO at Nickelodeon, and I was part of Nick’s consumer products business, but now I’m overseeing all of the global consumer products business for the Viacom brands. So that means I now manage Nickelodeon, MTV, Comedy Central, BET and Paramount Pictures. It’s the first time I’m working really across the company.

Gomez: Let’s talk a little bit about inclusion. I saw on your social feed that you had had this big event going on at Viacom: Inclusion Week. Can you talk about what that is and why inclusion is so important to Viacom?

Kaufman: Bob Bakish, the CEO of Viacom, has done an incredible job of really helping to change the culture of the organization, break down barriers and silos. First, it’s about leadership. Of course, it starts at the top, and we are being incredibly intentional about bringing more women and people of color to our leadership. The second is all about our employees, and we have done a tremendous amount of work to make sure that people in our teams are not just going to their Rolodex, that we are meeting people all over the industry and trying to bring new perspectives to the organization. We’ve also been leaning in through our Employee Resource Groups, which represent all facets of the community. From a content and a consumer-products perspective, we are making sure we are representing our diverse audience in front of the camera and behind the camera with the stories we’re telling and the products we’re developing.

Gomez: For Target as well, we are thinking about diversity and inclusion for all, so from a multicultural perspective, a gender perspective, sexual orientation, abilities, age and even [body] size. If you look at our design collaborations, one of the things we’re proud of is not only just making designers accessible, but going to the designers and saying, “We want size inclusion.” We believe that this is what the consumer wants, and that has been a way for us to drive more inclusivity. In our casting, we show that these designer collaborations are for everybody: different ages, different sizes, different backgrounds.

Kaufman: You have really led in this space. I want to acknowledge that because first of all, it’s amazing what you’re doing. For us, we also push our licensees to be more inclusive with sizing—thanks to how Target’s led in terms of sizing for all. And you’ve changed the mannequins [to represent different body types].

This story first appeared in the Nov. 4, 2019, issue of Brandweek.

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