Wells Fargo Marketing is important. The financial institution is the third largest U.S. bank by asset size and reported investing US $600 million in advertising and promotion in 2020 (1.076 US$ billion in 2019), according to Statista. Portada talked to Rebeca Vargas, Head of Marketing for Diverse Segments at Wells Fargo on how her team is embedded in the overall Wells Fargo organization, upcoming advertising initiatives, DEI and more…
Rebeca Vargas has been Head of Marketing for Diverse Segments at Wells Fargo for five and a half months. She is in charge of marketing the financial institution to a wide array of diverse consumers segments including Hispanic, Asian American, African American, American Indian, Alaska Native, LGBT, students, military veterans, persons with disabilities and the non-banked sector. Asked whether her position at Wells Fargo is new or not, Vargas asserts that “positions are defined by the person who has the position”. “It’s a new position because I approach diverse segment marketing in a unique way for Wells Fargo,” Vargas adds.
This is a new position because I approach diverse segment marketing in a unique way for Wells Fargo.
Vargas comments that looking back at the organizational structure, Wells Fargo has fluctuated in the past between a centralized and decentralized marketing structure. She explains that today there is a brand marketing team, which is in charge of branding the Wells Fargo brand as well as of the brand guidelines. In addition, there are marketing teams along each line of business who do product marketing e.g. consumer, home lending, credit cards etc.
Vargas leads a third ‘type’ of marketing unit as there is no one with a similar position to hers across Wells Fargo. The unit Vargas leads is embedded in the Consumer and Small Business Banking Unit, which is led by Mary Mack, Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer of Consumer and Small Business Banking.
Wells Fargo Marketing Budgets
Marketing decision making is always more decisive and accountable if the decision maker is supported by a marketing budget (e.g. Alfredo Rodriguez at Dish Latino.) This is also the case for Rebeca Vargas at Wells Fargo. Vargas and her growing team of 15 executives has 100% decision making power over marketing budgets targeting diverse segments (Hispanic, Asian American, African American, American Indian, Alaska Native, LGBT, students, military veterans, persons with disabilities and the non-banked sector). Vargas is responsible for product acquisition campaigns for all the above mentioned diverse segments (e.g. checking, savings account, small business).
Marketing and media responsibilities include both below and above the line as well as upper and lower funnel marketing. Vargas’ team responsibilities include the activation of Wells Fargo’s sponsorship of the Mexican National Soccer Team and cultural engagement campaigns at important holidays like Hispanic Heritage month.
In addition, Vargas has a more consultative role in advising Wells Fargo’s product brand marketing teams to develop acquisition campaigns reaching diverse consumers. “We provide advice to make sure that those stories not only show people of color but resonate with diverse consumers. As an example of this collaboration with marketers in charge of different product units, Vargas cites direct mail campaigns where she makes sure that cultural insights are taken into account.
I have a dual role. I provide advice for total market and develop and execute our own segment marketing.
Wells Fargo Multicultural Marketing: Upcoming Initiatives
Vargas tells Portada about several advertising and marketing initiatives which will be launched in the next few months. “For the Hispanic segment, we are launching next month four new debit card designs in partnership with the Mexican Soccer Federation and the Mexican National Soccer Team. We have an affinity card with the team and as part of the logo change we developed four new debit cards.” The new debit cards will be promoted through TV, radio and social media campaigns in the third quarter. Additionally, at the end of the third quarter, Wells Fargo will be launching a sweepstakes campaign offering consumers the opportunity to fly to the Soccer World Cup in Qatar and watch the matches of both the Mexican and U.S. Teams. The sweepstakes initiatives, Vargas notes, will be supported mostly by Hispanic media properties. For the African American market, Wells Fargo in April launched the Wells Fargo HBCU Legends Collection, a new slate of 12 debit cards spotlighting the rich and vibrant legacy of historically Black colleges and universities, or HBCUs. More initiatives in partnership with HBCU are in store.
Multicultural Marketing is not DEI
DEI initiatives in Corporate America are clearly on the rise. In the case of Wells Fargo, there is a very focused and important effort in DEI (Diversity Equity & Inclusion). “For us DEI means making sure that we attract diverse talent, that we see opportunities for growth for diverse talent. That we work with companies that are owned by diverse entrepreneurs. It also means that we make sure that we support diverse communities in the U.S. and particularly in the places we do business,” Vargas claims. Examples include Wells Fargo’s partnership with Operation Hope, a national non-profit dedicated to financial empowerment for underserved communities as well as Wells Fargo’s support of Unidos.US, the largest Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization.
I personally believe that recently in the U.S. with the growing importance of DEI, there has been a confusion between multicultural marketing and DEI efforts.
Vargas emphasizes that marketing to the diverse consumer is different to DEI: “I personally believe, that recently in the U.S., with the growing importance of DEI, there has been a confusion between multicultural marketing and DEI efforts.” She explains that there is a “whole team that does DEI and then there is my marketing team.” “We certainly collaborate but our team has different objectives which are separate from DEI. My team is responsible for acquiring diverse customers and for deepening relationships and serving them in the best possible way – e.g. that branches have the right bankers, in-language communications etc-. DEI has more overarching objectives in order to do the best thing for suppliers, community and customers,” Vargas mantains.
An area where DEI overlaps with marketing and media is Wells Fargo’s commitment to minority owned media, the marketing executive asserts. “We are committed and make sure that we support all suppliers of diverse origin. We are looking forward to collaborate with them. We support NNPA, Black Press Assosciation, and do many media buys with many Hispanic publishers,” Vargas concludes.