BlackWeek To Launch Conference During Ad Week

BlackWeek To Launch Conference During Ad Week

News by Roberto Orosa
Published: January 15, 2024

A group of Black and Latino leaders has announced the launch of Blackweek, a groundbreaking conference aimed at addressing the persistent challenges of diversity and inclusion in the industry.

The conference, scheduled for October 15-18 in New York, seeks to go beyond typical discussions on diversity and inclusion and instead focus on tangible solutions. Frustrated with the slow pace of progress, the founders are determined to shake up traditional conversations on the subject.

"The current state of inclusion in this space is bullsh*t," said VML Chief Creative Officer Walter T. Geer III in BlackWeek's promotional video.

According to a July survey by the 4A's, the number of agencies run by white executives has surged to 90%, and ad spending on diverse-owned media remains just below 2%. The founders aim to challenge these statistics by creating a conference that stands apart from others in terms of content and format.

Joe Anthony, the founder and CEO of Hero Collective and Hero Media and one of the founders of Blackweek, emphasized the lack of movement in key diversity metrics since the tragic passing of George Floyd.

"80%+ of the world is non-white. If you don’t have a cultural strategy that truly represents all consumers, you’re missing out on a huge, huge opportunity to maximize your impact. So let’s all make a lot of money together by knocking down those obstacles that impact our ability to get to the truth of how we can add value to that," Anthony explained.

The BlackWeek Strategy

Blackweek is positioned as a "marketing conference meets an economic forum," with a deliberate effort to keep a small and engaged audience of senior executives. 

The conference, set to take place at Spring Studios in Tribeca, aims to attract trade executives from marketing, entertainment, healthcare and private equity.

"Any executive or leader that has made any type of commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion should put their money where their mouth is and this is where they should be attending," Anthony added.

With a focus on trade-specific problems, Blackweek will feature around 30 to 40 events, including keynotes, panel discussions, fireside chats and networking sessions.

Monique Nelson, Executive Chairman of Uniworld Group and another Blackweek founder, explained the unique approach of the conference.

"We would love to see a panel on how can a BIPOC agency get the whole account. Why are they always just an ingredient? Those are questions that we can pose and certainly, I think can have some pretty cogent answers to at the end of a Blackweek, and those are questions that I don’t think get asked at any of these other [conferences]," Nelson shared.

In terms of funding, Hero Media, along with contributions and services from the founders, plans to invest nearly $3 million in Blackweek. In collaboration with Hero Collective, the company produced a promotional film where founders discuss Blackweek's launch. 

"The reason why we call this Blackweek and the reason why we went with this black-and-white motif is because there's no gray area in the truth,” Anthony said.

The conference, scheduled to coincide with Advertising Week, aims to disrupt the narrative and encourage executives committed to diversity, equity and inclusion to actively participate in shaping the industry's future.

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