18 Dec Balmoral Multicultural Marketing Celebrates 30th Anniversary – as Canada’s Longest-Running Ethnic Agency
Business and government leaders gather at Toronto’s Shangri-La Hotel to honour accomplishments of trailblazing CEO, Sharifa Khan and her agency team
Toronto, ON – Many of Toronto’s preeminent business and government leaders congregated at the Shangri-La today, at a glitzy 30th anniversary bash, to honour Balmoral Multicultural Marketing, Canada’s longest-running ethnic communications agency, and its pioneering founder, Sharifa Khan.
“It has been my greatest honour over the past 30 years to serve Canadians by building bridges – helping brands support newcomers as they embrace the Canadian way of life, while at the same time, showcasing how immigrants enrich Canada by sharing their culture, cuisine and customs,” said Sharifa Khan, president and CEO, Balmoral Multicultural Marketing. “This has been a lifelong personal mission of mine, and as my team and I look forward today, I’m more excited than ever, for what’s to come.”
Khan has lived the immigrant journey herself, having come to Canada originally as a student from Hong Kong, and then building her life here. Thirty years ago, she noticed that marketers weren’t paying attention to many growing new immigrant communities. Back then, there were big influxes in the Portuguese, Italian, Greek, Polish and Ukrainian communities. There was also a gradual increase of Asian immigrants, particularly from Hong Kong. Communicating with these audiences at the time was not even on the radar for businesses.
“I saw an untapped market, and I knew that brands had a real opportunity to expand their client base, if they could authentically connect with these passionate, new Canadians,” explained Sharifa. “My first client in multicultural marketing was the Bank of Canada; they were looking to build brand equity for their Canada Savings Bonds – a well-suited option, for many immigrants looking for safe and secure investments.”
At that time, clients would spend 1-2 per cent of their marketing budget on ethnic communities, and relied, as expected on traditional print and radio advertising.
Khan says the pendulum had its biggest swing in Canada about 10 years ago, when the economic class from South Asian and Chinese communities started bringing considerable wealth, buying power and professional skills into Canada. Financial institutions, telecom companies, airlines and automotive brands were at the forefront, making long-term commitments to build relationships with Canada’s multicultural audiences.
Today, Filipino and Arab communities are close seconds in terms of newcomer growth in Canada. And with changing times, marketing efforts have gone through massive transformations as well. Brands today are seeing immense value in investing with immigrant communities.
“Investments in multicultural marketing have grown exponentially, and that is partly due to the fact that clients today are often seeing higher returns here, compared to mainstream investments,” said Khan.
Balmoral’s client list today is as diverse as the ethnic communities it serves. Some of the agency’s clients include: BMW, OLG, Rogers, Canada Life, Brita, Clorox, and the governments of Ontario, and Canada among others.
Under Khan’s leadership, Balmoral has also been a trailblazer in the industry. Among its many accomplishments: it was the first multicultural marketing agency in Canada to operate offices in Toronto, Vancouver, Hong Kong, Mumbai, and Shanghai – marketing to would-be newcomers to build loyalty before the arrive. It was also the first to launch a dedicated digital and social media specialty division: D-Lounge. Balmoral boasts a full suite of integrated communications services all in-house, with capabilities to serve markets in over XX languages. It has won multiple prestigious awards from such prestigious shows as: the CASSIES, Marketing, and CMA. Most importantly, clients recognize Balmoral as a long-standing industry leader that brings to life the principle that – cultural relevance is the most powerful connector.
Over the past 30 years, Khan has personally also broken every boundary imaginable to serve her calling – cultivating the power of diversity in building communities and businesses. She has been honoured by former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien for her entrepreneurial success. She is the recipient of Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee Award. She was named as one of Canada’s top 18 Women of Influence. Khan lobbied three levels of government to raise $23 million to bring the Dragon Boat World Championship to Toronto, resulting in significant contributions to Toronto and Ontario’s GDP. Moreover, Khan has tirelessly served many boards and charities over the years to promote goodwill – always making valuable connections for Canada’s multicultural communities.
Today, with Balmoral’s 40 ethnic-marketing professionals by her side, Khan is excited to continue breaking new boundaries, all to help brands and government organizations connect with new markets. “It’s wonderful to look back and reminisce about how far we’ve come, but looking forward is the best part, as we know that our mission continues, and we have more important work to do,” added Khan.