Meet Bettina Sherick, Founder of Hollywood in Pixels, a non-profit organization that preserves Hollywood’s vast digital history and celebrates Hollywood's vibrant digital community, and SVP, Consumer Insights and Innovation at 20th Century Fox.
Photos: Don Lupo Photography
How did you get started in advertising? What's been your career road map?
For most of my career I’ve been in marketing, not advertising. Particularly for those of us in the early days of digital, we were responsible for so much of the digital marketing mix because it was so new, and the traditional teams were focused on TV and print.
I started out in retail and sales. My career really took off after grad school when I launched the e-commerce business for the retailer I worked for at the time. It was 1999, and most people were still trying to figure out their e-commerce strategy, or they were spending millions launching e-commerce sites. I was a marketing manager at the time, and I pitched the idea of launching an online store for a mere $300K. At first I got a "Yes", but then the funding was pulled after a bad financial quarter.
However, I had a friend who was employee number 73 at Yahoo, and she helped me broker a deal to be one of the first stores in the Yahoo Shopping mall. I convinced my employer to fund my project for only $30K. We did get an online store launched for that little amount, and we started selling the very first day we launched. By the first month we were selling at the same rate as one of the small stores, with a fraction of the overhead. I left shortly after the store launch and moved over to Warner Bros. Studio Store as the Director of E-Commerce Marketing.
The AOL merger eliminated my role at WB, and I ended up taking a role with 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment International as their first-ever digital marketing executive. I moved over to the theatrical side of the business and eventually rose to SVP, International Strategic Digital Marketing. After running various digital initiatives at Fox for 14 years, I took some time to pursue other projects and started my own non-profit company: Hollywood in Pixels (HIP). HIP was established to preserve Hollywood’s vast digital history and to connect and celebrate the vibrant Hollywood digital community.
HIP is now three years old, and we keep getting more interest and involvement every year. I recently returned to Fox as well in a new and exciting role as a part of the new Data Strategy group.
What keeps you motivated? Do you have a personal motto?
My motivation come from within. I have continual drive to be a better (kinder) person, to be the best mom I can be for my son, and to do work that matters. Career-wise, I thrive when I'm working on projects that combine storytelling and tech in a groundbreaking, never-been-done-before way.
I don’t have a personal motto, no. No one go-to platitude.
What excites you most about this industry?
Digital has forever changed the science of advertising and marketing in such a profound way. We can engage with consumers now in ways that once were imagined only in science fiction books and movies. I love living in the future. It excites me, somewhat frightens me, and I feel very lucky to work on a team whose sole raison d'être is to innovate.
Where is advertising heading? What do the next five years look like?
The future is all about data. Right now, everyone is trying to figure out what data is important for their business, what’s directional, and what signals and signposts matter. Eventually the data will point the way, but only to those who are willing to listen, try, and experiment. Savvy consumers are already more adept at knowing what data signals they’re leaving for marketers, and that behavior will only get more pervasive. A handful of companies will continue to hold the lion's share of consumer data, but there is room for every company to understand and implement the signals their consumers are willing to share. And, the fight for net neutrality is going to be a big factor in what the future will hold in this arena.
What advice do you have for Black advertising professionals that are beginning their career?
Find mentors. Don’t stop being a student: read articles and blogs, watch online videos, go to seminars, take classes at UCLA Extension or General Assembly. Volunteer. Get involved in your company beyond just your day job; what clubs or interest groups are offered? Take advantage of them. Get to know recruiters for your industry and make sure they know where you are and what you’re working on, even if you’re not looking for a new job.
What should our industry be talking about in 2018?
Inclusivity, intersectionality, diversity. We should be talking (and doing) a lot about those three things.
Any closing thoughts?
Thank you for taking the time to highlight women of color in the industry. I think it’s important, especially now.