interTrend Communications Vice President Jon Yokogawa Speaks on Diversity in the Media

By: Danae Taylor, Event Planning Committee Chair

On Tuesday, March 3, Jon Yokogawa spoke at the Nittany Lion Inn about diversity and corporate responsibility in media and advertising. Yokogawa is the Vice President for interTrend Communications, a company that focuses on Asian and LGBTA representation in the media. InterTrend is the largest independent agency of its kind and is female-owned. Yokogawa was a part of Penn State’s College of Communications Arthur W. Page Center Professional-in-Residence and Lecture Series.

He began with speaking about how most companies usually establish pillars for diversity and inclusion, which should be represented in their workplace, corporate citizenship, supplier diversity and their marketing and advertising. However, just like in daily interactions, there can be some misunderstandings between different cultures. Yokogawa stated that some challenges in corporate diversity and inclusion come from a disconnection within the organization from the senior executives who understand diversity to the junior staff who want things to be more divers and to what Yokogawa calls “the vast middle” who are trying to figure out how to work in diversity.

Money can also become a factor in what groups are represented in the media because sometimes there just aren’t enough resources to advertise to everyone. One major takeaway from the lecture, however, was that change is hard and it is up to those of us who are in college to foster the transition to representing diversity and inclusion the way it ought to be instead of how it has always been.

We’ve all been in (or have seen on television) a situation where someone took offense to something based on their gender, race, sexual orientation, socio-economic status or religion. And if you have taken Sam Richard’s SOC 119 class, you can probably agree with Yokogawa’s point that dealing with diversity “walks the fine line between offensive and insightful.” Of course there are some tech brands out there, such as Apple and Microsoft, who market so seamlessly that it’s hard to pinpoint who they’re targeting. To better represent inclusion, it is important to be cognizant of different cultures, behaviors, traits and mindsets.

To put it into perspective how difficult it can be to satisfy all markets, watch this short clip from SNL.

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