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What is Happening to DEI in Marketing?

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What is Happening to DEI in Marketing? | WVU Marketing Horizons featuring Mark Robinson, author of "Black on Madison Avenue"



Mark Robinson, author of "Black on Madison Avenue," opened our eyes to the problems and opportunities for minority professionals in the ad agency world. Far from being change drivers for clients, agencies instead serve as mirrors on the world, he says. Most agencies simply do not see value in hiring minority staffers. Once inside, minority staffers are often invisible. DEI initiatives are more talk than drivers of real change.

At the same time, Mark says he gained enormous emotional and intellectual satisfaction from being in advertising, and he’s very proud of his work. He advises professionals of color to enter the field, and do their best to fit in, while never losing sight of their authentic selves. Tune in for a lively—and candid—conversation with Mark Robinson.

Robinson highlights three key areas of DEI on the advertising side:

  • Advertising agencies are set up to mirror their clients’ values and objectives, not to create change. There’s likely more appreciation of diversity on the client side.
  • DEI cannot be accomplished with just a seminar here and there; it requires time, dedication and effort.
  • It may come as a surprise to many that minority workers have long been early adopters of technology, from ecommerce, to social media and chat rooms.

About our Guest

Mark Robinson

Mark Robinson
Author of "Black on Madison Avenue"

Mark Robinson has spent the past 40+ years in advertising at some of the industry’s most prestigious agencies. Mark has been featured in Fortune magazine, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and Advertising Age.

Mark is a past member of the American Advertising Federation’s Multicultural Marketing Leadership Council, a national touring lecturer for the Advertising Educational Foundation, and an ongoing mentor for MAIP (Minority Advertising Internship Program) for the American Association of Advertising Agencies.

Mark was chosen by filmmaker Spike Lee to co-found and manage his new agency, Spike/DDB. In 1998, Mark launched Heritage Apparel, an internet-based clothing company that celebrated African American history and heroes. In 2001, he was recognized as the Entrepreneur of the Year for the successful launch of his next company, S/R Communications Alliance; the first 100% minority-owned network of 10 multicultural advertising companies, with combined business of $225 million.

Mark’s 2nd book, "Black On Madison Avenue," is part deeply personal memoir and part explosive history of what he calls “America’s most un-diverse white collar profession.” Mark is a past member of the Multicultural Marketing Leadership Council, a national touring lecturer and an ongoing mentor for the American Association of Advertising Agencies.

Mark’s 1st book, “Place of Privilege,” tells the story of the first young Black men to integrate the gilded halls of New York’s ultra-exclusive and most prestigious private school, The Dalton School.

Mark Robinson is the recipient of the 2023 Paragon Award from the 4a"s Society of Excellence, and the 1970's Diamond of the Decade Award from the 4A's Foundation.

Mark lives in Connecticut and is a highly sought-after strategist and advisor to various clients, including political campaigns and community organizations. He also serves on the board of directors of The Connecticut Mirror newspaper.


Meet the Hosts

Cyndi Greenglass

Cyndi W. Greenglass is a founding partner and president at Livingston Strategies, a data-informed, strategic consulting firm that helps clients develop, execute, and measure their customer communications with a close focus on results. Cyndi has razor-sharp strategic skills matched by impeccable on-the-ground savvy and tactical abilities. She is an Adjunct Instructor in the Data Marketing Communications online master's degree program from West Virginia University.

Greenglass has twice been named into the Top 100 Influential BTB Marketers by Crain’s BtoB Magazine and was the 2012 CADM Chicago Direct Marketer of the Year. She is a member of the Board of Advisors for BRAND United and has taught, trained and presented at over 50 conferences throughout the world.


Ruth Stevens

Ruth P. Stevens consults on customer acquisition and retention, for business-to-business clients. Ruth serves on the boards of directors of the HIMMS Media Group, and the Business Information Industry Association. She is a trustee of Princeton-In-Asia, past chair of the Business-to-Business Council of the DMA, and past president of the Direct Marketing Club of New York.

Ruth was named one of the 100 Most Influential People in Business Marketing by Crain’s BtoB magazine, and one of 20 Women to Watch by the Sales Lead Management Association. She serves as a mentor to fledgling companies at the ERA business accelerator in New York City.


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