A Taxonomy of the Multicultural Cliché

This fascinating read in the Washington Post exposes the expectations the mainstream has of the multicultural and, equally, multicultural expectations of the mainstream when it comes to what a cultural brand should be named.

Emperors and Empresses fence with Chopsticks and wrestle Pandas and Dragons for top spot among Chinese restaurant names, across the USA. Imperial Gardens, Golden Woks and Great Walls hold their own against a mob of Jade Villages and several Bamboo Groves. Even this rather convenient online Chinese restaurant name generator only serves to underscore our reluctance to use our noodle in favour of the lazy familiarity of the cliché.

I guarantee very similar findings with Indian restaurants - across the world. It is a world ruled by Maharajas, Maharanis and their edifices - their Taj Mahals, their Bombay Palaces and occasionally when slumming it, by their humbler Huts, whether serving Dosa, Roti or Curry. Here and there we see a sideways leap from Kadhais to Tandoors - that's frying pan to fire for those unaware of the cuisine's argot.

It's easy to see why in a world of Stupidly Imitative™, Ho Hum™ and Same Old Same Old™, we are passionate about differentiation and why we were careful to guide our FreshCo client away from stereotypes and clichés when we went to work for them. And it's why the brand they so correctly approved and ran with - Chalo - is so right for our time and for our audience.  

Gavin Barrett is Ideawallah at Barrett and Welsh, a Toronto agency which serves as defacto Ministry of Defence in the war against cliché, whether in Arabic, English, Putonghua, Macedonian, Pig Latin or Zamboni. (Just checking to make sure you were paying attention). No pandas or dragons were hurt in the writing of this post which also appeared as a LinkedIn post by Gavin.

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