A BOARD director at MediaCom, one of the world’s largest media buying agencies, Sanjay Shabi is one of the best-known and most respected figures in the world of advertising.
At MediaCom, he has responsibility for regional ethnic media titles and also heads CultureCom, a specialised and unique unit within the main business, with a core focus on ethnic advertising. Shabi has worked in the industry for more than three decades, starting out in the multinational Zenith Media in 1990.
He joined MediaCom in 2001, and got promoted as a board director just three years later, the same year the CultureCom division, then the first of its kind, was launched. He would take charge in 2011, securing his own position for trying to deliver to advertisers the growing BME consumer market.
Shabi says he has seen a rise in diverse representation in recent years. In particular, he believes the momentum of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement that swept Britain last year following the death of black American George Floyd in the US has increased the need for inclusivity across advertising. “I think [the BLM protests] marked a real turning point when people needed to really think about how they addressed diverse audiences.”
Shabi suggests brands start thinking a little broader than just the one-size-fits-all model of traditional advertising. He co-authored the seminal report The New Britain in 2014, which found that ethnic audiences were 60 per cent more likely to purchase a product if it was advertised in their media. “We are seeing more product development within the digital sphere, a continuing rise in different types of TV stations and the evolution of broadcasted content addressing the needs and interests of British-based ethnic groups,” he has said at the time.
Shabi notes 2017 as a watershed year for completing a