The Macallan

Improving understanding to create connection


Cultural understanding and inclusivity have become business imperatives in the modern market.

The Macallan needed to take a leadership position to ensure that their brand resonated with a more diverse audience and lived up to their organizational values. They came to us for help in better understanding how to maximize connection with Black and African American consumers and create true inclusivity across brand touchpoints.


We knew that the first step was to dive into Black and African American consumers’ worlds, where we could identify the gaps in communication and experience and missed opportunities to connect. To do this, we needed to look back before we could look forward – understanding everything from the historical lack of representation in advertising to which luxury brands consumers gravitated towards (and why).

At a wider brand level, we needed to tackle the issue of how to embrace inclusivity as an “exclusive” brand. Ultimately, this was about deeply understanding what defined The Macallan and providing an actionable vision for creating positive change. Part of this needed to address when, why, and how to be part of the cultural conversation as a brand, showing up at the right moments in the right way to support the growing Macallan community.

Inviting everyone into the world of The Macallan


At its core, this was a challenge about embedding new ways to foster connection into the broader brand ecosystem, focusing on fully appreciating and understanding each demographic’s wants and needs.

We first identified the imperatives for connection and inclusivity through a “cultural vision” panel with thought leaders across the DEI, luxury, and alcohol spaces, as well as in-depth research with whisky consumers. We dug into the semiotics of inclusivity, looking at the codes and cues of brands that resonated more deeply with Black and African American consumers and how they differed across categories. Through this process, we gained an understanding of how to welcome more people into The Macallan through everything from product design to messaging.

We found that storytelling sits at the heart of inclusive connection, and we knew it had to factor heavily into our solution, creating a detailed set of storytelling imperatives focused on connecting with Black and African American consumers. These imperatives stretched across products, experiences, and rituals, bringing them to life in an authentically inclusive and engaging way.


We incorporated the storytelling imperatives into a future narrative vision with core principles to guide communications, experiences, and activations in the short- and long-term. We explored why each principle matters to Black and African American consumers and how to bring them to life with humanity, storytelling, and lived brand values.

Allowing the brand’s humanity to shine across all touchpoints led to a significant outcome: successfully balancing a premium, aspirational feel with warmth and an invitation to experience the brand together.

Inviting more people into the world of The Macallan by facilitating inclusive connection has redefined what a Scotch drinker can look like, expanding access and creating a diverse community of brand advocates around a shared love for whisky.