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Diageo, the world’s largest producer of spirits and beers,  spent US $2.5 billion in marketing in 2021, according to Statista. “At Diageo brands lead with culture,” Jennifer Yu, Vice President, Brands in Culture North America at Diageo, tells Portada. Marketing with cultural intelligence has become crucial for corporate success in Multicultural America. We conducted an interview with Yu to ask her how she does cultural marketing at the beverage giant.

Before Yu entered her current position at Diageo in August 2021, she worked as Senior Global Events Lead, High Touch Experiences at Apple, Inc. Contrasting the approach to marketing at both companies, Yu asserts that “at Diageo brands lead with culture. At Apple they lead with product.” After her experience at Apple, Yu wanted to go back into cultural marketing, where she had occupied positions prior in her career, as she is very interested in the  “human aspects that drive the connectivity of all the diverse cultures in the United States.”
Cultural Marketing
Diageo’s House of Slay activation brought together fashion, food, design and other cultural partnerships.

Yu’s role at Diageo is new  and, in her words, aims at  “driving a unified platform where all Diageo brands can show up in one cohesive space.” An example of such a platform is the recent partnership between Diageo brands  Johnnie Walker, Tequila Don Julio, Tanqueray, & Smirnoff Pink Lemonade with House of Slay (Phillip Lim, Prabal Gurung, Laura Kim, Ezra J. William, and Tina Leung), an AAPI founded and fashion-forward collective with the mission of stopping Anti-Asian hate and discrimination.

We work on driving a unified  platform where all Diageo brands can show up in one cohesive space.

As the Vice President, Brands in Culture North America, Yu leads a team of 12 marketers who drive the integration of the brand portfolio’s multicultural marketing efforts into a cohesive strategy and create cutting-edge initiatives uniting entertainment endeavors with strategic partnerships to launch and amplify new brand narratives. Yu and her team are part of Diageo’s Center of Marketing Excellence which, and unlike Dish and Wells Fargo, does not have media budget decision making power – it does for PR and experiential marketing-, but issues recommendations to the brand marketers in each of the product lines. “We work across the portfolio of brands driving experience, influencer and social media. We have a consultative role with brand managers and work hand in hand with them on a strategy for all brands  through one cohesive platform,” Yu says.

How Does Culture Impact Marketing?

Yu notes that each brand at Diageo has a brand purpose. Yu and her team are unifying brand purpose together in order to highlight different cultures. In the case of the AAPI Heritage Month 2022, House of Slay initiative. Diageo wanted to create a platform for underrepresented voices in the AAPI community to show its rich heritage while combating Anti-Asian hate .”We wanted to show rich heritage and culture across the Asian diaspora. We liked the activity component of House of Slay,” she notes. “The Asian diaspora is composed of 40 different communities. we did not want to be monolithic and celebrate all of them. That is why we brought together fashion, food, designers and other unique partnerships that drive the agenda,” says Yu. The House of Slay/Diageo Day Night MRKT was promoted through social media buys as well as earned media PR efforts.

Cultural Marketing Challenges

Diageo's House of Slay Activation
Diageo’s House of Slay Activation

A key challenge in cultural marketing Yu notes is “that each of the micro communities are represented in their authenticity and still can be celebrated through one unique platform.” In order to accomplish this, inclusive messages need to be crafted that touch all of Diageo’s brand portfolio, she asserts.

A key challenge in cultural marketing is that each of the micro communities are represented in their authenticity and unique cultures , and still can be celebrated through one platform.
Asked about which of Diageo beverages index high with particular multicultural groups, Yu notes that Johnnie Walker is huge with the Asian community, while Buchanan and Don Julio have a large Hispanic following.
Note: Portada inteviewed Yu on May 20 during the Diageo and House of Slay Day Night Mrkt event in New York City’s Lower East Side’s The Market Line venue.
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Portada Staff

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