If agencies, media companies and ad tech firms are going to fulfill their renewed promise in recent months to diversify their workforces, they’ve got to reach out to Black students and recent college grads early to explain why a career in advertising is something worth pursuing.
With that in mind, Steven Golus, a DoubleClick and dataxu vet whose day job is to provide training and consulting services to companies in the digital marketing industry, decided to adapt his education regime to introduce students at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) to the fundamentals of media and advertising as they’re practiced in the real world.
The program, called The Boyd Initiative, launched last month with backing from Ampersand, Fox Corp., Havas Media Group, Katz Media Group and Horizon Media.
The effort is named for Edward Boyd, a marketing executive at Pepsi in the late 1940s and early 1950s who pioneered the notion of marketing products specifically to Black people, without stereotypes, at a time when racial discrimination was the norm.
To start, Golus is running a series of five free classes throughout August on Zoom with a group of 20 students from Howard University, Morehouse College, Grambling State University, Spelman College, Hampton University, Tennessee State University and North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. Nearly 80 students applied to participate in less than three weeks after the program launched.
“I interviewed all of the students before they could officially register to take the class and I get chills thinking about it, because they are so impressive, so enthusiastic, smart and articulate,” Golus said. “I think back to how I was at the age of 20 and 21 and, well, I was not that impressive.”
But most marketing majors, at HBCUs or other schools, spend their time on academic concepts, such as the 4Ps of marketing (product, price, place and promotion) – but not the fifth and most practical one: Programmatic.
The Boyd Initiative curriculum is designed to be practical, Golus said, with sessions on agency structure, how marketers use agencies, marketer needs, jobs in media and advertising and day-to-day life at an agency, plus quick-and-dirty tactical deep dives into digital, search, OTT, programmatic, Facebook, Google and Amazon.
“I want to go into everything they don’t teach you in college about media and the ad industry,” Golus said. “The students I’ve spoken with about this are excited, because they want information about how this industry actually functions.”
After each session, one of the five sponsors has about 20 minutes to talk to the students about its business and opportunities in the media industry. Face time with potential future employers is one of the most valuable parts of each class, said Paige Harris, a Howard University student, class of 2021.
“We are able to learn more about potential careers and build connections to help us in the future,” Harris said. “This is exactly what we need at HBCUs.”
Golus also set up a mentorship program to match students with industry advocates. The program has 40 mentors signed up so far from companies across the media and advertising ecosystem, including Discovery Communications, The New York Times, dataxu, SessionM, GroupM, Modi Media, ViacomCBS, AMC Networks, A+E Networks, IPG’s Acxiom and Ampersand.
“Being committed to diversity, equity and inclusion is all about providing education, opportunity and access,” said Shayna Walker, director of diversity, inclusion and campus recruiting at Horizon Media, one of The Boyd Initiative’s founding sponsors.