Tariq Muhammad Walker, VP Creative Development, Aol | Huffington Post Media Group

Tariq Muhammad Walker is the vice president of creative development at AOL/Huffington Post Media Group. He’s a the leader of global Internet services and media company branded entertainment team charged with creating high value editorial programs that uniquely engage audiences and advertisers.

Here, the digital marketing expert shares three ways brands can grow and evolve; why Target was on the mark with their 2011 Black Friday commercial, and where multicultural marketing fits in a media strategy.  –munson steed

Innovation in marketing is created when what happens?

Innovation in marketing is created when marketers and media companies collaborate and use consumer insights to drive strategies rather than having campaigns that are conceived in silos.

What are some of the best marketing ideas currently on the Internet and in social media?

The best marketing opportunity that the Internet and social media provides is the ability to connect with consumers on a one-to-one basis. The Internet has made this invaluable communication faster, more efficient and more fruitful than ever.

Brands are able to evolve and grow when what three elements are done to help them?

  1. Have a clear value proposition for consumers;
  2. Create a marketing plan that communicates that value proposition across all media outlets in the manner that is most appropriate for the particular medium (e.g. do not use a television ad as your online video pre-roll, but rather refresh to shorten and include calls to action particular to the consumer’s mindset while using the medium); and
  3. Encourage marketers and media partners to take calculated risks.

How has social media made a difference in the way you market your personal brand?

Social media has allowed me to develop and maintain connections with a wider network and share ideas more freely.

Creating a branded event experience is important because …

Brand events are important because they allow consumers to experience a brand’s value and attributes in a setting that is most conducive to their enjoyment and connection with the brand/product.

Advertising to a diverse community is important because …

Advertising to diverse communities is important because brands need a direct connection to as many constituencies as possible. Additionally, diverse communities tend to drive trends that mainstream culture later adopts.

What is the source of the best ideas for marketing programs?

Inspiration can come from anywhere. The best ideas for marketing programs are inspired by the communities that the brand is trying to reach.

How does your team brainstorm for clients?

We brainstorm for clients by getting clear on their core objectives and target consumer and combining that with key audience insights that apply to those goals.

What is your favorite television commercial? Why?

My favorite commercial was the Target Black Friday sale lady. She perfectly communicated the frenzy that accompanies the holiday shopping season. They were able to poke fun at themselves and their consumers in a way that resonated and was memorable.

How has the Essence Music Festival been so successful from your viewpoint?

The Essence Festival took a space that was fragmented and created the must-attend national entertainment event for the black community. It’s been successful because it dwarfs anything in its space and gives consumers and marketers an incredible bang for their buck.

What is the next level for companies to embrace in the multicultural space?

Most companies still think of Multicultural marketing as an afterthought. More companies should think of MC and mainstream marketing as part of a complete message and develop them in conjunction and create an interplay and dialogue within the messaging.

Munson Steed

Founder and publisher of rolling out's parent company Steed Media Group.

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