McDonald's takes a "cross-cultural" approach to multicultural marketing

Stephen Whiteside

McDonald's Corp., a long-standing and renowned American multicultural marketer, appears to be slipping outside of its pocketed ethnic appeals, and moving to a wider "cross-cultural" approach in its appeals to various audience segments.

"Here's the news: the ethnic plans are the foundation [of our marketing program], and influential in shaping that plan, and it is endorsed by the entire system," said Marlena Peleo-Lazar, chief creative officer at McDonald's. "We are continuing to invest in the fastest-growing segments of our business: our ethnic consumers. We insure that it is never an afterthought. In fact, incorporating an ethnic perspective actually begins our marketing process."

McDonald's, in fact, has been a genuine bellwether for ethnic-orientated marketing appeals since the early 1970s, when it began working with Burrell Communications to focus its multicultural programs. But its approach simply cannot stand still. "We're not in Kansas anymore. The general market doesn't look the same," she told the ANA audience.