MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – The annual ADCOLOR Awards and the Association of National Advertisers Multicultural Conference at the ultra-extravagant Fountain Blue Resort brought together some of the most dynamic and talented minds in the advertising and marketing industries.

The purpose of the conference is to illuminate and pay homage to pioneers, change agents and innovators. But it also serves to help the thousands of attendees to continue to come up with ways to improve diversity and inclusion in the industry. Rolling out was able to catch up with several of the nation’s top advertising and marketing insiders. Below, they share insight on the conference and issues and triumphs concerning minorities in marketing and advertising.

Tiffany R. Warren, Founder of The ADCOLOR Awards and Senior Vice President, Chief Diversity Officer for Omnicom Group Inc (above). “We have two very distinct goals through ADCOLOR: to celebrate the achievements of talented communications professionals who are making a mark in business and giving back to their communities, and to redefine diversity. For us, diversity is truly about bringing together people with a variety of experiences, backgrounds and points of view, regardless of any ethnic or cultural background.”

Danny Robinson, SVP/Creative Director, Martin Agency: “I’ve always believed that part of the problem [with numbers] is not that [minorities] are not interested in advertising. I’m in advertising and it was not even on the radar when I was in college. I’ve spent a lot of time speaking to kids at the Boys & Girls Clubs, elementary schools, [and] high schools just to get kids to understand that it is an industry.”


Keisha Mitchell Williams, Multicultural Brand Manager, Proctor & Gamble; Heads P&G’s “My Black is Beautiful” National Campaign: “We have launched two new things with “My Black is Beautiful” tour. We have launched our model search, looking for everyday women to represent “My Black is Beautiful”; and our “My Black is Beautiful” theme song, where we are encouraging consumers from all over to send in their interpretation of what “My Black is Beautiful” means to them.

Pamela El, Marketing Vice President, State Farm: “We have been working with the Asian community for over 10 years. We have forever been talking to African Americans through sponsorship programs, television programs and we have been advertising in language with Hispanics for over 15 years. I came up in general marketing agencies. I had clients who hired multicultural agencies because it was the right thing to do at the time. They didn’t care about the work. They didn’t care about the audiences. What they cared about [was that they] wanted to be able to say, ‘I have a black agency’ or ‘I have a Latino agency.‘ But, at State Farm, it has always been about inclusion.”

Talia Mark, Manager of Diversity Affairs, NASCAR: “One of my first responsibilities was to put together for the multicultural plan for NASCAR our newest reality TV series on BET. It started on Sept. 1, and it was an eight-series, hour-long show called “Changing Lanes.” It chronicled our drive to diversity. Our job is to expose the country to the opportunities that we have for minorities at NASCAR.”

Michelle Thornton. Director of Sales, CNN: “The content that our team sells is what Soledad O’Brien is working on in conjunction with Essence magazine. We will be working in the future with Black Enterprise; we support Ghetto Film School. We are making sure that all these little pieces are coming together. These are the partnerships that you need to have so that my daughter doesn’t have to have this conversation. And that is my goal; that is my legacy. And CNN allows me to do that. And it is a privilege. It is a privilege to work with a company like this.”

alt src= Sheila Marmon, CEO, Urban Ad Serve: “I attended the AdColor Awards in Phoenix last year [2009] and found the energy and spirit around multicultural marketing — and understanding how to reach this audience in a targeted and really efficient manner — just exciting to be part of. One of our clients is State Farm and I have to give them a shout out because they do such a great job with targeted marketing. They are real about it; they are authentic about it. They are talking to people in the community, where they live, and in ways those communities are used to being spoken to and it’s driving dramatic results in their business.”

Kadesha L. Caroll, Clark Atlanta University and Spelman Alum, Senior Market Program Specialist, Sony Electronics Inc.:
“I want people to realize that there is a lot of potential in this [multicultural] market and you really can’t market us the same way. You really need to take your time to articulate your brand to them through marketing and communications.”

Heather James, SVP and Chief Marketing Officer, Advertising Research Foundation; Clark Atlanta Alum: “This conference [the Association of National Advertisers] has helped to [highlight] — from the CMO down to the marketing manager — the importance of the emerging segment (multicultural, cross-cultural, total market). That‘s where we are today. This has been a fantastic experience.”

Jason Crain, Advertising Consultant, Google, Specifically with CBG Industry: “Initiative is to reach out to those minority advertising companies that are not present in our online space, introducing them to what online advertising is and letting them know that there are opportunities for us there, and make sure that we grow the business.”

–terry shropshire