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Aaron Walton, Founding Partner, Walton Isaacson

Posted By Emily Hope, Tuesday, July 10, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, July 10, 2018

How did you get started in advertising? What's been your career road map?

The truth is, my interest in advertising traces back to my childhood, watching Bewitched as a kid. I was fascinated with the way Darrin found creative solutions for the agency’s clients.

I wound up attending Babson College, which is known for a focus on entrepreneurialism. Roger Enrico, President of PepsiCola North America, was a Babson alum. I was involved in student government at Babson and Enrico saw me speak at a Board of Trustees meeting. That connection led to landing my first job in marketing. I started my career at Pepsi in research and brand management. I really wanted to work for the legendary ad man, Alan Potash. He was known as the godfather of Pepsi’s most iconic campaigns (Pepsi Challenge, Pepsi Now, Choice of A New Generation). I had successfully lobbied to be moved to his department when a special assignment came up. My transfer to advertising was put on hold, and instead, I was asked to manage the company’s music marketing efforts. I represented Pepsi on tour with Michael Jackson, Tina Turner, David Bowie, and the Miami Sound Machine.

My role evolved beyond music, expanding to include celebrities and all things pop-culture—basically tying the brand in the social zeitgeist. In the end, I never did wind up working directly for Alan in the advertising department.

Eventually, I decided I wanted to go out on my own, so I started Aaron Walton Entertainment (AWE). Pepsi was my first client. My focus was on using music, celebrity and pop-culture to amplify brand messages and connect with consumers experientially. Clients also included AT&T, Taco Bell, Frito-Lay, Pizza Hut, Budweiser and others. Omnicom acquired AWE as part of their DAS division. Following my tenure at DAS, I decided I wanted to start a new agency, one that expanded beyond celebrity and played a role throughout the strategic and creative development of 360 campaigns. Which brings me to Walton Isaacson.

What has been an important, perhaps the most important, lesson you’ve learned in your career thus far?

Culture matters. Leaning into culture, and specifically leveraging diversity of experience, drives innovation. But buckle up, because drawing from many perspectives is messy—but it can also be magic. Getting comfortable with being uncomfortable is key.

What keeps you motivated? Do you have a personal motto?

I embrace the philosophy of civil rights activist Bayard Rustin, who said, “We need in every community, a group of angelic troublemakers.” That applies to work, home – to virtually all aspects of life. And, what I love to see, what keeps me motivated, is my ability to work with young talent and shift their thinking from accepting the status quo to embracing respectful rebellion. Igniting sparks and setting minds on fire. When I can free a person up to think like an angelic troublemaker, then everything else falls into place – the work for clients soars, the personal and professional satisfaction of the team reaches new heights. I love identifying the person in the team who is ready to challenge themselves. My impact on them ultimately impacts others and we all grow.

What excites you most about this industry?

Telling stories that have not been told in ways that they have not been told. We are no longer an industry that does monologues, talking about ourselves to ourselves. We are in dialogue with people, we are collaborators, and the creative possibilities are infinite. Where is advertising is headed? What do the next five years look like? From a societal standpoint – whether brands accept it or not —cultural commitment will drive a brand’s success. That means awakening to the power of authenticity, being vulnerable, having values, prioritizing purpose. The more brands face the world the way they want the world to face them, the more successful they will be.

 

 




Photos: Don Lupo

 

What advice do you have for black advertising professionals who are beginning their careers?

You deserve a seat at the table and don’t let anyone or anything suggest otherwise. It may not be given to you, you may have to demand it, but you have earned it – not just because you’re Black, but because you’re great. And don’t be afraid to bring your cultural perspectives and, frankly, powers to the conversation. You understand the world in a way that many others don’t. You understand the good, the bad, and the ugly of human behavior. You have your finger on the pulse of the future. Don’t settle for the scraps and don’t feel obligated to teach others what it has taken you a lifetime to learn. The industry needs you and it must respect you.

I would also say this for LGBTQ, Latinos, Asians, Women across cultural segments – I would say it to any group for whom a career in this industry was not always a viable option and who still remain marginalized in many contexts.

Why did you decide to join the ThinkLA board?

I wanted to join ThinkLA because of the organization’s commitment to celebrating the creative power that fuels this town. L.A. has a deep bench of creatives across multiple agency models and industries, but they often go unrecognized or undervalued. L.A. is not always taken seriously and that impacts the way the industry here is viewed. But the creative talent in L.A. helps determine trends and communicates compelling stories through television, film, radio, digital content, advertising and events. There is amazing storytelling generated in L.A. and it’s essential that L.A. talent get recognized and honored for that. I am proud to be part of an organization like ThinkLA because of its mission to help amplify the work that comes out of this community – creativity lives in L.A.

Any closing thoughts?

Welcome to LA, King James!

 

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Aaron Walton is a Founding Partner of Walton Isaacson, a full-service advertising agency founded in 2006 along with Cory Isaacson and Earvin "Magic" Johnson. Aaron currently serves on ThinkLA's Board of Directors

Tags:  #ThinkMembers  Career Advice  Member Spotlight  Philosophy  Walton Isaacson 

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Sunny Behniwal, Senior Account Executive, Adelphic

Posted By Emily Hope, Tuesday, July 3, 2018
Updated: Thursday, July 5, 2018

How did you get started in advertising? What's been your career road map?

After earning a degree in Economics and Accounting from UCSB, I spent the first two years of my career in Accounting at Conversant. My career in Accounting was progressing well, but I felt I was underutilizing other skill sets I possessed. So I looked to make a change. Luckily, I was working for an AdTech company at the time and was able to move into and Account Manager role on the media team.

After a little over a year, I was promoted to Account Executive (AE). I spent a little over two years in an AE role with my prior company before joining Adelphic-Viant as a Senior Account Executive about a year ago.

What has been a surprising lesson you've learned so far in your career?

I’ve learned that emotional intelligence is one of the most important traits to possess and consistently work on. When I was younger, my thought process was very linear: Work Hard > Get Promoted > Make More Money > Success. However, there will be so many highs and lows during your career that learning how to treat people and react to situations during the lows becomes more important than your behavior during the highs in regard to your long-term success.

What keeps you motivated? Do you have a motto?

I’ve found the happiest people I have come across in my life are those who continue to strive for progress. So, my motivation every day is to make progress whether that be professionally, mentally, spiritually or physically.

Two of my favorite quotes which I often reference are:

  • "I do not believe in taking the right decision; I take a decision and make it right."
  • "You know the comfort zone is never static. It’s always in a state of expansion or retraction."

 




Photos: Don Lupo

 

What excites you most about this industry?

I love how the industry is constantly changing, forcing me to adapt, and continue learning. But more important than that, I love the diversity and inclusion of our industry. I have been able to interact and forge meaningful relationships with individuals from so many different walks of life.

Where is advertising heading? What do the next five years look like?

The industry is going to continue to consolidate with only truly differentiated companies remaining. With the consolidation, I feel the need for great customer service will be at an all-time high.

Transparency will continue to be a hot button, and I see advertisers moving more and more away from traditional digital KPIs while focusing more on meaningful measurement such as actual online/offline sales.

What advice do you have for those just starting in advertising?

I would advise anyone that is new to advertising to be as open-minded as possible and to try different roles/responsibilities until they find a truly great fit. Luckily for them, our industry has a plethora of job types within our industry ranging from Sales to Engineering to Creative to Analytics, etc. 

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Sunny Behniwal currently serves on ThinkLA's Emerging Leaders Council, and is a Senior Account Executive at Adelphic (a Viant, Inc. company). Prior to joining Adelphic, Sunny worked at Conversant

Tags:  #MemberSpotlight  #ThinkMembers  Career Advice  Member Spotlight  Members  Sales Career  Sales Executive  ThinkLA  ThinkMembers 

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Member Spotlight: Joe Camacho: Chief Marketing Officer, Sabio Mobile

Posted By Emily Hope, Wednesday, June 6, 2018

How did you get started in advertising? What's been your career road map?

While still in film school at SDSU, I was also working in television production at the NBC O&O in San Diego. Besides running a studio camera, chyron and other production duties, I also had to manually record and load television commercials for Master Control to play. I was able to watch the best commercials… and forced to watch all the rest, but always reminded of the revenue generated through advertising sales.

My time at the station allowed me to work my way through grad school and eventually transition from production into NBC sales and marketing. And as I experienced the transition of television operations and media sales to become more and more digitized, so too has been my digitized career path into mobile as Sabio Mobile’s CMO. I’ve been fortunate throughout my career to work with extremely talented creative and technical teams.

Today, I’m privileged to work with a team at Sabio Mobile that’s so impressive not just from their technical mobile expertise, but also in who they are as individuals. Watching the careers of my colleagues flourish is the ultimate privilege of my own.

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned?

Patience and persistence pays off.

By pressing on through adversity with a smile on my face, believing better days are just around the corner, and that all things work together for good, is my definition of persistence. Patiently, I’ve watched this optimistic perseverance work things out in the end.

What keeps you motivated? Do you have a personal motto?

The possibilities motivate me. We live in the heart of the most amazing time to be alive, as witness to the possibilities. Watching the technical advances all around us and taking part in them at our company is highly motivating. It’s why I love Mondays.

My personal motto is to “Love your neighbor as yourself.” It is over this foundation that the law is laid.

What excites you most about this industry?

Two things: One is the collective talent of creative teams who have learned to master mobile’s unique sensory capabilities to create exciting new ads that you can feel and touch. And the other is the capacity, as an industry and as individuals, to do good.

 



Photos: Don Lupo

 

Where is advertising heading? What do the next five years look like?

As economies continue to grow, ad budgets will also grow but more and more of that growth will be invested in mobile. Not only because it’s where the eyes are but also because the return in data about their customers is crucial to their new marketing strategies. As our smartphones continue improving their function as remote controls for our lives through IoT and their accompanying apps, the volume and quality of data available to marketers will continue to increasingly expand, providing rich insights about their current and future customers.

What advice do you have for those just starting in advertising?

You’ve heard it before but I’ll say it again. Learn to code. But also, learn from the vendors. Knowing what key services and products are required for a successful campaign and what differentiates the best vendors from the rest is important.

Any closing thoughts for the ThinkLA community?

I talk about you all the time. I’m fortunate to attend and sponsor ad club events around the country and all of you keep coming up in conversations. You’re known for doing amazing work for your clients and our ThinkLA community. Thank you.

But please, if you are in the carpool lane and everyone else is going faster than you… you’re probably in my way.

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Joe Camacho is Chief Marketing Officer at Sabio Mobile. Prior to joining the advertising industry, Joe served as a Marine Air Traffic Control Radar Technician for the U.S. Marine Corp. from 1984-1990. Thank you for your service to our country, Corporal Joe Camacho!


Tags:  #ThinkMembers  Career Advice  Joe Camacho  Member Spotlight  Sabio Mobile 

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Member Spotlight: Carlene Rowe, Director of Brand Partnerships and Experiential, Conill Advertising

Posted By Emily Hope, Wednesday, May 9, 2018

How did you get started in advertising? What's been your career road map?

I’ve always been fascinated with storytelling, as I’m a big fan of film, television and music. One of my favorite movies as a kid was ET. My favorite part in the film was when ET was lured by one of the characters with Reese’s Pieces candy. This was my first encounter with advertising and product placement, which led me to study marketing and advertising at California State University, Northridge.

My first job out of college was working as a Contemporary Marketing Representative at Anheuser-Busch. During my tenure, I had the privilege to partner with top talent, travel the world and learn from the best minds in the advertising industry, as we launched memorable beer campaigns, which made Budweiser the iconic brand it is today. After years of moving up the ladder, I landed the best job in the company, as Sr. Manager of Sports and Entertainment, working with agencies on several campaigns.

This led me to my role as Director of Sports and Entertainment at Conill Advertising, what a great ride!

To this day, Reese’s Pieces is still my favorite candy… advertising works!

Do you have a personal motto?

I'm passionate about Sports and Entertainment, so doing something I love is always fun, rewarding and thrilling. In addition, my team at Conill keeps me motivated, as they are creative, hard working and inspiring leaders ready to make their mark in advertising.

My personal motto is, “Leadership is earned, not given”, so I encourage everyone on my team to be a leader. It doesn’t matter what title you hold, we all have the responsibility to share new ideas, think outside the box and make a difference as it relates to their project or field of work.

What excites you most about this industry?

Constant change. Data and innovation are KEY, as we are learning new ways to communicate with audiences globally. Data and innovation will continue to provide brands with the ability to hyper-target consumers and measure results more precisely and insightfully than ever before. In an era where we can tune in to watch an electric car being launched to Mars via social media for everyone around the world to see, not even the 'sky's the limit' anymore. With change comes growth, which is exhilarating!

Where is advertising heading? What do the next five years look like?

Innovation, Innovation, Innovation!

VR, AI, voice-control systems and new apps, provide brands with a way to link with hyper-connected consumers, as a means to provide more authentic and personalized engagement. Look out for new ways of distributing branded content and new avenues of communication through advancements in technology that will impact the way we communicate with consumers globally.

What advice do you have for people in advertising that are beginning their career?

Find your niche. I manage the Sports and Entertainment department, which is a new area of focus at our agency; it gives us the ability to reach new audiences through influencer marketing and events, as it paves the road for our brands to get in front of consumers and engage in a way that is appealing and authentic.

 



Photos: Don Lupo

 

What should our industry be talking about in 2018?

There are so many things happening across the marketing landscape, that it’s impossible to call them all out. From my vantage point, innovation, experiential, and influencer marketing will continue to be pivotal in creating unforgettable experiences for consumers, particularly given changes in social media platforms, such as Facebook. Technological advancements in these areas over the next few years will continue to transform the engagement model and expand the relationship envelope.

Any closing thoughts?

As John Quincy Adams said, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” We need more leaders who aren’t afraid to take risks and disrupt old ways of thinking. We must foster and cultivate the emerging visionaries in our business, so they can take us to new heights.

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Carlene Rowe is the Director of Brand Partnerships and Experiential at Conill Advertising. Carlene recently spoke at ThinkLA's Auto Breakfast, and was featured on ThinkLA's Women of Color in Advertising to Highlight list.

Tags:  #MemberSpotlight  #ThinkDIG  #ThinkMembers  Career Advice  DIG  Diversity in Advertising  ThinkMembers  Women 

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Spotlight: Rochelle Webb, President and Chief Strategy Officer, The Dialectic Compound

Posted By Emily Hope, Wednesday, April 18, 2018


How did you get started in advertising? What's been your career road map?

I always knew that I wanted to be in the business of communicating with people. When I was in high school, I thought I would get into that through pictures, photography and visuals. While at Boston College, I figured out that I wanted it all. I became passionate about studying the strategy of advertising and marketing. In a very spontaneous move from Atlanta to L.A., I fell into the game of ‘knowing someone who knew someone’ that got me an entry level gig in a media agency and I never looked back.

I took some pivots here and there from media buying to PR to media strategy and then to global brand marketing. I wanted to be a generalist, so I could be a CMO of a big company one day. I wanted to speak everyone’s language, so that I could be a great leader of people and of a large-end organization, and I felt I had to walk the walk, so I could talk the talk. After falling in love with business, I realized the big company that I would end up running would be my own and that I was destined to be an entrepreneur. Building became my new ‘sexy’ and Fortune 500 was in the rearview. Ever since then, I have been writing my future to cater towards the goal of starting my own venture and utilizing the skills I gathered along my journey.

After 17 years on both agency and client side businesses and finishing business school in the midst of it all, I emerged as an entrepreneur with a heavy focus on marketing. Marketing and strategy are at the core of everything that I do and I don’t regret a single move that I have made along the way.  

What keeps you motivated? Do you have a personal motto?

Work smarter, not harder.

I think this applies to people and strategy development. As a human, you need to arrive in a situation, quickly assess it, and understand where your opportunities for collaboration and value-add lie. You should understand where you can learn the most, as well as, understand the areas that allow you the greatest amount of visibility to decision makers.

But, that is only a small part of the puzzle.

The larger part of navigating the industry chasm is to have the gravitas to understand how to socialize and operationalize your work. This is how you gain traction, earn respect and position yourself to elevate your career. You have to work your audience in a way that doesn’t feel forced, over-confident or entitled.

I have always been results oriented.

I chase success metrics. I have had the opportunity to work on powerful pieces of business in my career, so my motivation has always been in the success of those businesses and being able to clearly identify the areas where my team and I have been able to make an impact.

What excites you most about this industry?

The constant change in marketing and advertising literally gets me out of bed every day! Most people wake up to see what’s going on in politics, I want to know what is going on in marketing. If you blink, you may get left behind.

I am always amazed at the pace at which martech and adtech are moving on a minute-by-minute basis. There is an off the shelf solution for almost anything these days, so teams and brands can be in better command of their own destiny and work smarter. It raises two interesting questions that I have always asked myself… Is it possible to have a ‘successful’ in-house advertising agency in client-side businesses? And what will happen to the traditional agency model as technology plays a bigger role in business? But now, I no longer have to wonder, it is happening before my very eyes and it is exciting to watch.

People are re-inventing themselves and their roles. There is a fresh eagerness to learn in order to stay ahead of the curve. I just hope that hiring managers adopt the creativity to be able to look at today’s talent pool and re-imagine them in these new world roles. There is no longer the ‘perfect resume’… it now relies in the ‘perfect pitch’ for yourself and networking, networking, networking.

Where is advertising heading? What do the next five years look like?

Advertising is heading towards a more automated future and human assets will begin to play a different type of strategic role. I think media planners will have to start asking themselves, ‘how can we use technology to outsmart our competition?” or “How can we partner more strategically with our media suppliers to provide better brand experience to our consumer?” or “What resources are out there to help us better anticipate the consumer’s needs and make a bigger impact with our brand assets?” Rather than, “how many impressions or clicks does it take to make an impact?”

I am eagerly awaiting the shift in industry where agencies ‘think differently’, as Steve Jobs rightly coined, and am watching today’s planners and strategists revise the future.

In the next five years, we will see leaner teams, but more of them. There will continue to be an evolution of innovation arms to help navigate this impending sea change. We don’t get through this guessing, we have to encourage the habit of being curious and becoming more predictive, so that we prepare our current mid-level managers to be the best leaders that they can be in the future and you do this by always seeking answers to new questions. Today’s mid-level managers need to have the willingness to continue rolling up their sleeves to get the work done. We don’t progress by harnessing ambivalence.

What advice do you have for black advertising professionals that are beginning their career?

Get in where you fit in… and where you don’t. It is important to quickly understand what you do well and lean into that, but more importantly, it is important to understand where you don’t fit in and determine why, and then understand how you can make it clear that you do fit. What I mean by that is that in professional situations, people tend to surround themselves by peers that look like them and very intentionally avoid the ‘agitators’ or people that often speak their mind and represent the unpopular point of view or ‘devil’s advocate’ perspective with the intent of driving innovation. People at the top sometimes see this as more work to invite this perspective into a meeting. But, you can insert yourself by using your intellect and professionalism to show people that the proof is in the pudding, and back it up by being solutions oriented. Bring the problem and the solution. When speaking, use facts, not generalizations. When listening, really listen and play it back, instead of waiting for your turn to speak.

What this doesn’t mean is walking into a company as an assistant media planner, walking into the Account Director’s office and demanding a raise and a promotion. What it does mean is when there is a problem to solve and the answer is not readily available, go to look for it, study it and present it back to the people that are responsible for solving the problem. Show initiative.

I often tell my mentees, “play bigger than you think you are… because than you are playing who you really are.”

 



Photos: Don Lupo

 

What should our industry be talking about in 2018?

The incredibly low percentage of women and minorities in leadership positions. I left agency-side advertising seven years ago to go client-side. And I left client-side corporate America to branch off on my own three years ago to start my own consultancy. I often attend conferences and seminars only to see a very monochromatic group of individuals. There is an adage or a stat that says, “people tend to surround themselves by people that look like them.” Okay, so I get it, there aren’t that many people in leadership that look like me, so how do I change it? I am a change-agent, so I don’t do well in stagnation, which is why I decided if my employers were not going to support my growth, then I have to invest in myself and start my own entity. I got an MBA and started my own company in an effort to stop working for other people. I am absolutely razor-focused on determining my own future success and supporting those that may not be the obvious choice. Those that look like me. 

Any closing thoughts?

I hope that this movement creates real momentum around changing the faces at the top and that we as a culture truly make a shift. I hope this is more than a movement of diversification, but diversity becomes reality. I promise to do my part, but I won’t lie… there are many moments in my day, every day, where I am dis-heartened by what I see. And there are situations that occur that cause me to reflect on my own career where I realize racism played a role, by people who I liked and respected and I thought felt the same about me. And that hurts. I don’t want to hurt anymore.

I stand for change, a brighter future and the rise of the underdog. There are enough powerhouses in the industry that if they continue to take the risks to make sure their voices are heard, that I believe we can turn the industry. I see hope with organizations like ThinkLA that make the conversation around diversity a priority. Using your mindshare to stand up for the under-represented means we have in fact taken a step in the right direction.

Thank you ThinkLA.

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The Dialectic Compound was born to incite immediate change in thriving businesses. It is a collaborative, curious and creative 'Think Tank' of highly seasoned business, marketing and operations executives who are curated from the wild.

Tags:  #MemberSpotlight  #ThinkDIG  #ThinkMembers  Career Advice  DIG 

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Member Spotlight: Carron Brown, VP, Account Director, The Integer Group

Posted By Emily Hope, Wednesday, March 7, 2018


Photos: Don Lupo Photography

 

How did you get started in advertising? What's been your career road map?

A dear friend at Leo Burnett encouraged me to get started in advertising. She was aware of my skillset and knew that my personality and expertise were a good fit for the advertising world. She was absolutely correct. It wasn’t until I began in advertising that I truly felt at home.

Prior to advertising, my background was in entertainment and technology. Therefore, I was able to make an immediate impact in my first agency role on the Universal Pictures account. This account brought all of my passions together under one roof. I was afforded the opportunity to combine my affinity for entertainment, multicultural marketing, media and content creation. Ever since, I’ve built my career with accounts that tap into my passion points and allow me to show up, each and every day, genuinely excited about the challenges and opportunities ahead.

I’ve recently joined the Omnicom family. I work on the AT&T account through the commerce agency, The Collective. In this role, I reside at the intersection of branding, selling, entertainment and technology. I felt that bringing the advertising experience full circle, and closing the loop at retail, was an important skill to add to my portfolio.

 

What keeps you motivated? Do you have a personal motto?

I stay motivated knowing that I’m assisting a brand in finding their authentic voice, and shaping that brand story in a way that connects to the target audience in a meaningful way.

My personal motto is derived from something Maya Angelou once said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” I apply that in everything I do, and I aim to move in a way that encourages others, and empowers them to become their best selves.


What excites you most about this industry?

This industry is full of unapologetic passion and energy, and that’s contagious. We have the power to shape the way people see themselves and their place in the world. When used for good, that power is magical.
 

Where is advertising heading? What do the next five years look like?

The future belongs to the companies that stand for something, and that's exciting. There’s increasingly a price to be paid for neutrality, and this is forcing brands to find their voice, have a POV and move with intention.

In the next five years, agencies will be called upon for their strategic and cultural expertise, in equal proportion to their creative services.


What advice do you have for black advertising professionals that are beginning their career?

Embrace your empirical knowledge. The industry needs many different voices and experiences in order to offer clients well-rounded solutions. The industry is in desperate need of unique points of view. I would give that advise to any person starting out in advertising. Don’t allow your age or level of experience to shape your perception of your value. We’re in a business of culture, and an agency’s cultural currency is only as valuable as the sum experiences of its members. Your unique life experience is an asset. Treat it as such.

What should our industry be talking about in 2018?

In 2018, it’s time to officially acknowledge our new blended world as a reality, and not a niche market. While targeted marketing efforts are still very much needed, in order to ensure that we’re speaking with an audience, and not just at them; our definition of “general market” must quickly expand.


Any closing thoughts?

Be present. It’s all moving so fast.

Tags:  #MemberSpotlight  #ThinkDIG  #ThinkMembers  Career Advice  DIG 

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Spotlight: Bryanna Goecke, Ad Relief President, and Account Executive at Us Weekly

Posted By Emily Hope, Wednesday, February 28, 2018


Photos: Don Lupo Photography

 

How did you get started in advertising? What's been your career road map?

I am slightly embarrassed to admit that I completely fell into the world of advertising. Growing up in Colorado, I had no idea that there was an entire industry dedicated to advertising, much less that it would be the perfect fit for me. I’ve always been an extrovert and enjoyed interacting with new people, and I’ve always been intrigued by the human psyche and knowing what makes people tick. From about the time I was in middle school, I was convinced I wanted to be a criminal profiler for the FBI; I was reading books like John Douglass’ Mindhunter about 20 years before Netflix made it cool. I was absolutely fascinated by the concept that you could study someone’s personality and past behavior to predict their future actions. I eventually decided I was not cut out for law enforcement. I had a Bachelor’s degree with a double-major in Psychology and Sociology, yet only a vague career goal of finding a niche where I could apply my understanding of human behavior and love for working with people.

During this time, I had also been managing a movie theatre to get through school. Right after graduation, one of my old co-workers approached me about coming to work with him as a Sales Planner at NCM Media Networks, which is the company that did all the in-theatre advertising at my theatre. Although I honestly had no idea what a planner was, I already knew the company was fantastic from working with them during my theatre days, so I jumped headfirst into the role. As soon as I started, I fell in love with the advertising world. I immediately knew that my end goal was to work in Advertising Sales. It was the absolute perfect fit—who knew there was a job completely dedicated to interacting with people and homing in on consumers’ behaviors to drive product sales?! I was lucky to work at a company where my management team was really vested in the success of their employees and helped foster our goals. They knew my passion was in sales so they helped me transfer to the LA Sales office to dive into the market.

It’s always been important to me to think one step ahead of my career path to create direct, actionable steps to get where I want to go. Just like I knew I needed to move to LA when I was working in Colorado, I already knew I wanted to develop my sales knowledge by working at Turner during the time I was at NCM. I actively networked and prepared for that role so I was ready when a position opened up. Similarly, while I was developing my skills as a planner, I was determined to move into a Digital Sales role with a reputable, trusted brand like Us Weekly. I took digital training courses, met people in the digital realm, and attended as many networking events as I could to help prepare me for my current role.

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What keeps you motivated? Do you have a personal motto?

I’m a firm believer that the best motivation always intrinsically comes from within. I constantly challenge myself to learn something new, improve my current skills, or do something that terrifies me until I’ve mastered it enough to lose the fear. I will never be a finished product; I know I can’t be complacent because everything I struggle through now will help me prepare for the road ahead.

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned so far?

Don’t be afraid to be your awesome, crazy, authentic self. When I was first contemplating moving into advertising sales, I had this picture in my head of a slimy cars salesman who would say anything to drive business. I knew I couldn’t be that person, and questioned if I had what it took to succeed in sales. I have no poker face. I can’t even tell a white lie to my dog. I decided to embrace my own style and hope for the best. I am so thankful that I did because I quickly learned that you get further by letting people see your quirky, unique personality than by trying to fit yourself into a pre-set mold. I think my candidness has played a pivotal role in helping me build long-lasting, trusting relationships that allow me to be successful in my career.

 What excites you most about this industry?

I love that the industry is constantly changing. Every day is a new adventure and it’s so exciting to be a part of the evolution. I remember when I was first starting out in advertising over a decade ago, I was tasked with helping our company figure out how to sell digital as a brand new product. To this day I think we are still being tasked with this same challenge of changing our products and sales models to keep up with the latest offerings. It keeps you on your toes and makes things interesting.

 What advice do you have for those just starting in advertising? Take some time to really think about your career path and where you would like to be five years from now, 10 years from now, and 20 years from now. Plan out actionable steps. Once you know what you want, tell everyone about it. If you have goals and are ready to work hard to get there, people will support you. We are so lucky to be a part of the LA advertising community—I have seen time and time again that it is one big family where everyone wants to help raise each other up.

None of the opportunities I’ve had in my career would have been there without the strong support net of my industry family at NCM, Turner, and Ad Relief. When I first started out in advertising, they gave me projects to help teach me how to be a good seller, they introduced me to people who worked at the companies they knew I wanted to work at, and they always went to bat for me when it was time to move to the next position. The relationships you make are everything.

With that said, you also need to be ready to hustle. Take an active role in your own success. Say yes to every project that comes across your desk, even if it will require long hours and may fall way out of your comfort zone. Every assignment is an opportunity to learn something new and become a stronger asset.

Last but not least, put yourself out there. Meet as many people as you can. Go to every ThinkLA and Ad Relief event that you can possibly squeeze in. Any time you are invited to go out with co-workers or clients, say yes. This is a small community and you will be working with the same people for years to come, so make connections. Jump out of your comfort zone and say hi to a stranger.

How did you get started with Ad Relief?

When I first moved to LA, one of my co-workers invited me to go to the annual Ad Relief Movie Night. At the time I didn’t fully grasp what the organization was all about. I thought it was just another opportunity to go hang out with people in the advertising industry. Once I learned more about the charity, how events like the Movie Night and November Luncheon raise money for people in our advertising community who are going through a life crisis, I knew I wanted to become more involved. I’ve now been a part of the organization for about four years and am honored to have been inaugurated as President this year.

The events are always the fun part, but by far the most demanding and rewarding part of Ad Relief is acting as a case worker on the board to help our friends, co-workers, and colleagues who are going through difficult times. While we keep everything strictly confidential to protect the people we help, at any given time we may be assisting anywhere from one to dozens of fellow colleagues in the LA advertising community. No two cases are alike—we’ve provided support for everything from cancer treatments, to homes burning down, to industry vets who suddenly find themselves homeless and unemployed with a growing pile of medical bills. It is one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever been a part of and I am so thankful that my co-worker brought me to that first event.

 What does 2018 hold for you, and for Ad Relief?

This is already looking to be a very busy year for Ad Relief. Unfortunately, the constant changes in the advertising landscape have pushed more people into hard times than ever before. We are constantly working to grow the organization to support the increased need we are seeing from the community. We are also very excited to welcome several new board members this year! In partnership with the new members, we are working hard to raise awareness for Ad Relief across all sectors of the advertising community, from digital to radio, as well as brainstorm some fun new events.

 Any closing thoughts?

It would only be right to give a quick shout out to ThinkLA. You have played such a big part in my career development, and I am so thankful that you are here to support me and the rest of the LA advertising community! If anyone reading this has not yet gone to a ThinkLA event, you definitely need to make it a priority!

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Are you interested in supporting Ad Relief

  • You can support the Ad Relief mission by attending their events throughout the year. The first event of 2018 is Bubbles & Brews on March 8 at OMD/Chiat. Considering the open bar, food, and games are all included in the $50 ticket price, it’s a great deal, and they always have an amazing turnout.
  • When shopping on Amazon, use smile.amazon.com and select “Advertising Industry Emergency Fund” from the list of charities. By doing this, Amazon donates 0.05% of all the purchases directly to Ad Relief.
  • Get involved! Ad Relief is always in need of donations, event sponsors, and volunteers.
  • Help spread the word! The more people we can educate about Ad Relief, the more advocates we’ll have ready when a tragedy strikes. When you are going through the unimaginable, the last thing you want to do is ask for help. We want to make sure everyone knows who we are before they are in that situation.

Tags:  #MemberSpotlight  #thinkMembers  Ad Relief  Bryanna Goecke  Career Advice  Community  LA Advertising  Member Spotlight 

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Member Spotlight: Clarissa Garrett, Senior Art Producer, RPA

Posted By Emily Hope, Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Photos: Don Lupo Photography

 

How did you get started in advertising? What's been your career road map?

I was about 5 years old when I began performing my favorite ad jingle for my mother and her friends at their Saturday night hangouts. I’d sneak in the kitchen, steal a frying pan and start singing “I can bring home the bacon…fry it up in a pan”! This circa 1980 Enjoli perfume commercial reenactment always resulted in riotous laughter to my satisfaction.

Completely unaware that Advertising was a viable career option, I applied to Syracuse Universities S.I Newhouse School of public communications out of high school, in hopes of becoming the next Oprah. It only took 3 weeks of a first-year broadcast journalism class to confirm that the “News” was not my passion. I switched to the Advertising track and consumed all aspects of the discipline.

After graduation, I had no idea how to land a job in the field so I researched mentoring programs. [ThinkLA's] Minority Advertising Training program (MAT) helped me to land an internship at Saatchi & Saatchi where I partnered with an amazing mentor. With her help, I found the Art Production department which was a creative mix of photography, project management and world travel!

After a decade working Automotive accounts and then a few years freelancing, I landed my dream job working on the Apple account. With a deep love for Apple products at an intensely creative agency, I proudly helped to launch the iPad and was one of the Senior producers for the Shot on iPhone campaign. I’m now happily working on Honda on a brand I both love and respect at an agency whose mission is to put its people first (RPA).

 

     

 

What keeps you motivated? Do you have a personal motto?

“Just keep singing”… My love for music and performing keeps me motivated. Learning, writing, performing and creating music cleanses my soul! Even just listening to music of all genres calms my mind. It’s sort of prophetic in the way that it becomes the window into what is happening in culture and in our collective consciousness. When I began writing my own music, it gave me a voice and allowed me to live life more “woke” and happy. Music is therapy and it sparks creativity. Everyone should have something in their lives that fills their heart in this way. What excites you most about this industry? It’s exciting because it’s always evolving and requires its members to evolve as well. You can’t hate change and be successful in this business. Advertising reflects and informs culture and so we have to watch it and live it and make sure we are hiring diverse cultural influencers and experts so that our voice remains relevant and our ideas stay fresh.

Where is advertising heading? What do the next five years look like?

 You only have to watch a couple of Black Mirror episodes to know we are only at the beginning of the digital media evolution. My kids aren’t into social media at all, they are busy building their own worlds in Minecraft! Ads are becoming product placements in our digital lives and that is probably only going to go to deeper more savvy levels.

What advice do you have for black advertising professionals that are beginning their career?

 Find an amazing mentor! Please note, this person does not necessarily need to look like you! If you find someone you admire, just start asking questions. See if they are willing to make an investment in your dream by sharing what they’ve learned. I’ve had incredible mentors through the years at every level in my career from diverse backgrounds and each enriched my life and path in profound ways.

What should our industry be talking about in 2018?

As advertisers I think we have the power to change the narrative in culture. I believe we should be putting out messages of unity and continue to focus on ending divisiveness in the world.

In the summer of 2016, I was one of the producers on an Apple spot called “The Human Family” which celebrated global diversity and was narrated by the late poet laureate Maya Angelou. It was released at a time when our country needed the message. And yes, it sold products but it also sold hope, unity and the idea that we are all “more alike, than we are unalike”.

Any closing thoughts?

Just keep singing…

Tags:  #ThinkDIG  Art Producer  Career Advice  Creatives  Diversity  Member Spotlight  RPA 

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Member Spotlight: Bupendra Ram

Posted By Emily Hope, Tuesday, January 30, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, February 6, 2018

How did you get started in advertising? What's been your career road map?

Ethnically, I am Indian, but I was born in the Fiji Islands. I came to the U.S. when I was two years old when my family fled Fiji because of a political coup. We got a tourist visa to enter the U.S. Before we left, we met a man who was charging people $10,000 for an opportunity to get a green card as soon as we entered the U.S.

Upon our arrival in the U.S., we were presented with a green card. By the time we realized it was a hoax, we had overstayed and became undocumented. At the age of 23, I became Undocumented and Unafraid, and Queer and Unashamed. At this time, I joined passionate and resilient people to fight for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) and help people understand that immigration is a global issue and not just for people south of our border.

In 2014, as a strong and unified community, we helped the Obama administration do the right thing by partnering with hundreds of lawyers to provide him with the legal groundings to provide administrative relief to a category of undocumented youth.

 

Don Lupo Photography

 

As a recipient of DACA, my career in Human Resources has been relatively short but full of adventure and growth.

When I received DACA, I started to think about the opportunities that were not previously available or open to me. As a natural community builder and networker, I reached out to people and conducted informational interviews. I quickly learned that Human Resources would be the perfect blend of my love for business and people. In addition, I would be able to take my learnings back to my respective communities in two ways: 

  • I would learn how to support people from disadvantaged background with career planning, structuring and formatting their resume, branding themselves, and improving their interviewing skills;
  • I would learn the how to help others like me gain access to opportunities not always open to people with my experience or those who look like me.

The overall goal would be to become a Diversity and Inclusion practitioner to aggressively impact corporate culture.

Three years ago, I accepted an internship that would give me a broad understanding of Human Resources and gain practical experience. After outgrowing that role, I found an amazing opportunity as a Human Resources Coordinator at my first advertising agency, Hawthorne. I loved working with some of the most passionate and dedicated people in the industry. I directly impacted Hawthorne’s culture by helping them create a culture of trust and accountability. I loved helping their agency grow and be a place where people loved waking up and going to.

A year later, I was offered an opportunity to join Innocean USA with more responsibilities and an opportunity to be a part of a dynamic group of HR professionals. I was able to quickly learn more HR skills and dive into areas of HR that I am passionate about – diversity and Inclusion, employee relations, recruiting, and change management. Currently, through sheer determination, I am working in a field that I’m passionate about and love: Diversity and Inclusion at Live Nation as a Diversity and Inclusion Coordinator.

 

 

What (who) keeps you motivated? Do you have a personal motto?

My mom keeps me motivated. She continues to sacrifice so much so that I can have the experiences and opportunities that I am having. She left Fiji to travel to a place she had no idea about, had the courage to leave her abusive husband, and thrive when all the odds were against her.

Personal motto: “Why not?” I have always been told that I cannot achieve my goals because I am either undocumented, queer, a person of color, or an array of other reasons. I think sometimes we hold ourselves back because of our own subjugation and what we think is “normal.” I always try to figure out a way around challenges and push boundaries as much as I can.

 

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned so far?

I have learned that mistakes are your best friend. They help you learn and get better at what you do. It shows that you are in the arena and fighting to succeed. I have just learned how to be accountable for my mistakes, learn from them, and move on.

 

What excites you most about this industry?

Simply, it's the people. I think that marketing, advertising, and entertainment attract some of the most amazing and diverse people. Everyone is so passionate about what they do and creative that it makes work fun. Also, each day is so different that it forces you to find creative solutions to business challenges.

 

Where is advertising heading? What do the next five years look like?

The industry is molding to adapt to the changing demographics of people within the United States and abroad. People are rejecting binaries, labels, and identities that pigeonhole them. The blanketed approach to sell or entertain generalized demographics is not going to work.

Over the next five years, I think that the industry will be trying to understand how they can cater to this new demographic and rebrand themselves. For example, so many women are telling their #MeToo story and some are taking it a step further to make sure that we are changing who we are as a society and industry. We are going to have to move forward together and embrace the differences that make us unique and who we are. People want organization to reflect their values and the diversity that they see around them.

 

Why are you involved with ThinkLA?

I love ThinkLA and value their collaborative frame of connecting advertising agencies and supplying them with tools to be successful. I have been working with them for over a year through their Diversity, Inclusion, and Gender (DIG) initiative to help create tools and resources for our industry and highlighting opportunities related to diversity, inclusion, and gender for our industry, and allowing us to harness the power of our unique backgrounds to the greater good.

 

What advice do you have for those just starting in advertising?

Network and let people know what you are passionate about. Since I started a career in HR, I went to most networking events and met as many people as I could. During every interaction, I found a way to tell everyone and anyone that would hear me that I want to practice diversity and inclusion. The industry is very small, everyone knows each other, and most people are open to mentoring and supporting you.

 

In Adobe's recent "Creativity’s Diversity Disconnect" study, which highlighted diversity issues in the advertising industry, 54% responded that the industry was “getting better compared to five years ago,” while 7% actually said it was getting worse. And a resounding number of minorities described lack of access and seeing themselves reflected in the workplace. As a member of ThinkLA’s DIG initiative, what are your thoughts on these findings? How can the industry improve?

I am not completely surprised by the results. There has been a shift to address issues around diversity, but more work needs to be done around inclusion. Diversity needs to be done in an authentic way without ignoring the intersectionality of individuals with the support of people from dominant groups. Diversity impacts all of us and everyone needs to be involved to address these issues within their respective organization. I wholeheartedly believe that – together – we can get to a place where people can bring their full selves to the workplace.

 

Any closing thoughts?

Be yourself – your whole self – your authentic self. It makes everything so much easier.

 

 

Tags:  #ThinkDIG  Advertising  Bupendra Ram  Career Advice  DACA  Diversity  Diversity in Advertising  Immigration  Innocean  Live Nation  Member Spotlight 

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Ask a...Mentor with Eric Johnson

Posted By Emily Hope, Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Supporting the new generation of leaders within our industry, ThinkLA's diversity-driven mentorship program supports the new generation of leaders within the industry. We connect emerging, diverse talent with seasoned professionals that are passionate about giving back. Mentees are given the opportunity to be matched with a wide-array of Mentors across different talents, races, genders, career paths, and more, to gain a deeper understanding of the ad industry’s business practices and culture, gain expertise, build a professional network, and design realistic goals.

Meet Eric Johnson, President and Founder of Ignited, and ThinkLA Board Member. 

Tags:  Ask a  Ask a Mentor  Career Advice  El Camp  Eric Johnson  Ignited  Mentorship 

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