*Greg Cunningham has the charge of driving the multicultural marketing strategy for Target stores, and last month, in honor of Black History Month, Cunningham and Target announced this year’s new national multicultural campaign which encourages everyone, everywhere to celebrate diversity.  

While the campaign, called “Dare. Dream. Do.” initially focuses on African-Americans, Cunningham explained that Target’s commitment to diversity is more than just a month-long marketing campaign.

“‘Dare. Dream. Do.’ was really our attempt to change the way we think about talking about diversity and really leveraging culture almost as a competitive advantage,” Cunningham said. “For a long time our brand DNA was really grounded in inclusion. Target always seemed to feel like a brand that was very inclusive. So as we were thinking about diversity campaigns, I really wanted to transcend the typical definition of how we communicated diversity.”

Cunningham continued that “Dare. Dream. Do.” started out as a campaign called “Dream in Color” which he said answered the question of how the corporation would celebrate culture all year long and allow guests (consumers) to look at other cultures and be inspired and appreciative. Cunningham described the campaign as a way Target could be a curator of sorts of culture.

“So over the years we’ve expanded our ‘Dream in Color’ campaign which is now ‘Dare. Dream. Do.’ to include both our internal and external communications,” he said. “As we talk to our team members, we use ‘Dare. Dream. Do.’ as a filter. How do you dare to be your best every day at work? How do you dream to aspire to achieve, whether it be personal or team goals? And ‘Do’ is kind of that call to action – what are you going to do to act upon it?”

“Now we’re able to marry our workplace and marketplace initiative so that our diversity efforts are really a part of our business every single day,” he continued. “It’s not something that we have to think about. It just becomes imbedded in how we all function as Target team members every day.”

It really allows us to think about the fact that diversity is not an HR strategy, it is a business competitive advantage for us and how we think about it from both a guest and a team member perspective.”

Cunningham revealed that the heritage campaigns, such as Black History Month, are important although solitary promotions aren’t enough.

“We know that those cultures have historically been taken for granted,” he said. “Before you can start marketing to guests you have to earn their respect and their trust. Those communities tend to be a little more skeptical before they engage in a relationship, particularly with a retailer,” he said. “They really want to know that respect and understand how they’re different and how they’re unique. That’s why celebrating these campaigns – Black History Month, Hispanic Heritage, and Asian Pacific – are really critical because it helps to build that trust first.”

After that, as Cunningham explained, then conversations can begin about urging customers to shop and buy product.

Cunningham further describes the campaign as a cultural celebration about telling stories, but he said that Target doesn’t just highlight these stories in February, but all year long.

“I don’t just want to have an African American tell their story only in February,” he said. “I think that does a disservice and that’s the typical way that people celebrate black history and black culture. We want to move beyond that because black is beautiful every day, just like any other culture.”

“One of the catchphrases I like to use is that our stores should be like mirrors,” Cunningham described. “One example is if an African American woman is visiting our store she shouldn’t feel like she’s in a ‘black’ Target, she should feel like she’s in a Target store. But when she walks in, she should find product that she’s looking for. Black women have unique hair care needs so we’d better have a representative assortment of black hair care products and she should see models and images and faces that look like her throughout the store.”

The spokespersons for the “Dare. Dream. Do.” campaign are called dreamers and what makes the campaign even more unique is how Target chooses its dreamers.

“These are people that we do business with every day. It’s not like we’re thumbing through ‘Essence’ Magazine trying to understand who the celebrity of the day is and let’s try to get them to say some great things about Target. These are people we’re in business with and they also have incredible stories.”

Target dreamer Malaak Compton-Rock helped the company rebuild a school library in Brooklyn; Entrepreneur Steve Stoute helped develop the overall strategy for the multicultural market; the Urban League’s Marc Morial has partnered his organization with Target to educate African American middle school boys; and chef Marcus Samuelsson is partnering with Target to open the Harlem store, the first Target on the Island of Manhattan.

“The multicultural piece is a real passion for me and always has been, Cunningham said. “It’s one that has always been a part of my heart.”

Learn more about “Dare. Dream. Do.” and hear the stories at www.target.com/daredreamdo.