Unstereotyping: Because brands will lose out if they’re not diverse

Gráinne Wafer- Global Brand Director, Diageo (for Baileys)

Gráinne spoke of the cultural change that marketers need get to grips with, as they have the capability to play a big role in leading the diversity and inclusion agenda across the industry. They are in the position to use their ‘marketing dollars’ to shape what society sees as normal, acceptable and aspirational, to create change in their own teams and organisations, and create industry wide change for the better.

Marketers know that for businesses to thrive, they depend on diverse talent and thinking with a range of backgrounds, skills and capabilities. This is imperative for brands to get right when communicating to their audience, and in turn for the growth of their business.

This is especially important in the age of the modern audience, who are wise to gender deficiencies in advertising. They no longer tolerate negative stereotypes, and will proactively take action if they don’t like what they see- in a Kantar survey of 5000 women, 66% of them switched off TV ads if they felt that they were negatively stereotyped in them. And with women having, on average, 88% of household purchasing power, it’s time for brands to pay attention.


Diageo have a robust framework for ‘unsterotyping’ their campaigns, including looking at who is being portrayed in their advertising, making sure their characters and points of view are authentic, well-rounded, and diverse.

She emphasised that brands will not nail this first time around, but to keep trying, ensure they learn over time how to relate to their audiences, and to be brave in the process.