Eileen Hanna: Why we are committed to celebrating diversity and challenging stereotypes through our marketing

Eileen Hanna: Why we are committed to celebrating diversity and challenging stereotypes through our marketing

21 Dec 2021

Tell us about your Diageo career journey.

My journey at Diageo is one of different continents and cities, taking full advantage of the global nature of the company.

I started at Diageo in 2008 in Madrid, as part of Diageo’s Iberia business. My first role was as an Assistant Brand Manager on Malts and for Reserve. This was a huge opportunity to learn all about the luxury brands we have at Diageo and our reserve business. In Spain, I worked for our biggest volume brand, J&B whiskey, where I was able to launch innovation projects, become familiar with the on-trade and develop strategy capabilities.

After developing my Marketing Skills with a master’s in Integrated and Digital Marketing from New York University, I started freelancing for Diageo North America in 2013, specifically on Smirnoff and Johnnie Walker projects. Consequently, I made my way to Global Senior Brand Manager on Smirnoff, in the Manhattan office. This journey provided some truly amazing years travelling around the world, understanding how Smirnoff could connect and resonate with consumers in different regions, and leading global campaigns and amplification strategies.

Following a move to London I went from Head of Premix and ‘Ready To Drink’ for Europe, to a Marketing manager on Baileys, our favourite Diageo treat, leading and managing this brand across 11 markets, before I moved into my current role.

I have been working with some of our most senior leaders on shaping Diageo’s Progressive Marketing approach, which has been one of the most rewarding projects of all. Diageo has allowed me to give full dedication to how our brands shape and transform marketing practices to be more inclusive, progressive, and representative.

Tell us about your current role at Diageo and what you find most exciting about it?

I’m currently Head of Whiskey for GB, growing some of our most outstanding whiskies such as Johnnie Walker, Bulleit Bourbon, Haig Club and Bells by making them relevant to the GB consumer through our communications, media, culture, and innovation plans, as well as working cross functionally with our teams to build them commercially.

What excites me the most about this role is that it’s all about growth and opportunity. Whiskey is a huge category in Great Britain and we have an unrivalled portfolio to grow this further with a whiskey for different demographics and lifestyle stages. After a year in role in our new structure, we have seen all these whiskies grow into the double digits, and take market share (particularly Bells, Johnnie Walker and Haig Club). I’ve worked on some very exciting projects like Johnnie Walker’s ‘Keep Walking’ GB launch, Bell’s repositioning, and the launch of our new Haig Club Mediterranean Orange with our co-founder and global superstar David Beckham.

Tell us about Diageo’s Progressive Marketing approach – what does this involve and why does it matter?

It is well known that at Diageo we embrace diversity in the broadest possible sense. We have reflected this in our 2030 goals that strive to create an inclusive culture across our business, and with our partners and communities.

At Diageo, and as advertisers of some of the world’s most loved brands, we know we can make a difference with who we portray in our advertising and content, who we choose to make this work and where we place our ads.  

The ambition we set out is to accelerate and transform our marketing practices to be more representative, equal and progressive, becoming a driving force in the industry, in partnership with our agencies and allies.

We are a leading voice on progressive portrayal in advertising and have trained more than 2,000 marketers and agencies around the world in our four-part framework covering representation, perspective, characterisation, and agency in advertising. As part of this, we ask our marketing agencies to disclose their gender, ethnicity and age statistics and are committed to doubling our spend with diverse agencies by 2025.

Thanks to this framework we have created some truly remarkable content for our brands. An example of this is the Global Baileys Halloween advertising campaign ‘Witches’, which we aired in 2021 featuring three of the UK’s biggest Drag Queens. This work was created in unison with Diageo’s LGBTQ+ employee group, the Rainbow Network, and INvovle, a global consultancy championing diversity and inclusion in, helping us to create an authentic and representative piece of work.

One partnership I love is our outstanding alliance with Creative Equals, a non-profit consultancy that runs a returner scheme to support women across the UK, North America and India to return to the industry following a career break.

Finally, I am proud that we have committed to a multi-million-pound investment over the next two years to media platforms and publishers who are working to make mainstream media more diverse and inclusive. The global program includes working with minority owned and operated media vendors, as well as helping to fund mainstream media outputs that authentically deliver multicultural and intersectional narratives to diverse communities. We have started our journey, but we will not stop there!

How do you think our Progressive Marketing commitments makes our employees and prospective future talent feel about Diageo as an employer?

Each time we have presented this work internally, I always get the same response: pride in what we do. It’s truly inspirational to work for a company that values diversity and inclusion in this way, taking the right steps to make a difference. For future talent – they will probably see a company that fights to be truly progressive where it counts, with our brands.

What does it mean to you to be a part of this?

Working on Progressive Marketing for Diageo has been truly rewarding for me and I feel extremely proud of it because it’s making a difference, even though we have a long way to go. As a woman and a passionate advocate of representation, I care deeply about elevating diverse voices to connect with our wide consumer base and ensuring our advertising is helping to shape a tolerant society. I feel empowered to be able to change the narrative through our work at Diageo.  

What I value the most is the hands-on nature of our teams – anyone who believes they can make a difference participates. It’s been a real honour to work with different trailblazers around the globe to shape these practices, I’ve learned a lot!

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