altWhen major music influencers like mogul Jay-Z and Innerscope Chairman Jimmy Iovine are calling you “brilliant” and the “king of advertising,“ you know you have attained elite status. Steve Stoute, a renowned and former manager for the likes of wordsmiths Nas and Kid-N-Play, made the successful transition from music into the nearly all-white world of advertising and marketing.

Stoute had the foresight and gumption to pioneer the practice of pairing celebrities with major national brands. He paired Hov with Reebok, the first non-athlete to have his name inscribed on his own shoe. He also brokered fruitful business deals for Carol’s Daughter and managed the philanthropic endeavors of the Queen of Soul, Mary J. Blige. Stoute, the CEO of Translation, was inducted into the American Advertising Federation’s Hall of Achievement in 2008. He shared his formula for success at the National Black MBA Association annual convention in Los Angeles.

“What employers are looking for is the talent that’s out there, that’s willing to be resourceful, that’s willing to ask the next question, that’s willing to find the answers. And not just give the answer, but be able to show them how you got the answer. Lots of people out there have education. What’s going to separate you from the field is, if you can take your education and put some practical application around it and resourcefulness around it, so that it will illuminate what you’re all about,” he says.

Greg Cunningham,Target’s group manager for brand marketing spearheads their groundbreaking campaign, Dare.Dream.Do. “As we talk to our team members, we use Dare.Dream.Do. as a filter. How do you dare to be your best everyday 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?”

Tiffany R. Warren, founder of The ADCOLOR Awards and senior vice president, chief diversity officer for Omnicom Group Inc. “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.”

Keisha Mitchell Williams, multicultural brand manager, Procter & Gamble also heads P&G’s My Black is Beautiful National Campaign. “We have launched two new things with [the] 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.

Don Butler, vice president of marketing at Cadillac rounds out our list of black brand managers. Butler leads product planning, marketing and advertising for GM’s flagship luxury brand. Butler came up through the GM ranks as he earned his bachelor’s at GM Institute before attending Harvard University as a GM fellow, where he acquired his MBA. In 2005, he was appointed chairman and managing director, General Motors Egypt, and led the achievement of all-time sales records in that country. –terry shropshire