Why Diageo prefers "culture-plus" to multicultural marketing

Stephen Whiteside

Multicultural marketing has reached a point of such critical mass that its mere mention can spark controversy.

There are those who insist that the American melting pot has become so rich and diverse that all advertising should be "total market", and encompass appeals to a variety of ethnic pockets.

There are others who maintain that generations of US marketers have been woefully neglectful of African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans and Asian-Americans – and the time has come to play catch-up in serving those distinct audiences.

Count Marc Strachan as a member of the first group; as a marketing practitioner who strongly believes that multicultural marketing requires a fundamental rethink – that, in fact, the term itself has become entirely redundant.

"It actually is a terrible name. It's a name that's going to evolve and change if we're going to do this right," said Strachan, Diageo's vp/multicultural marketing for North America, while addressing delegates at the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) Multicultural and Diversity Conference, in late 2013. "I really think it should be called 'culture-plus marketing.'"