This article is part of a larger series that focuses on diversity and equity in marketing through the amplification of Black and racially diverse authors. As a company, we are committed to identifying actions we can take in the fight against racism and injustice, and elevating BIPOC voices is paramount to inspiring change. Follow along and read other posts in this series here.


This post is authored by Anaya Duncan, a brand strategist at Henkel. 

“It be like that” (The background)

While it shouldn’t require a McKinsey report to get you to believe why workplace diversity is a positive for any organization, understanding that there are blind spots and pitfalls in marketing that come from lack of firsthand life experience or cultural familiarity should absolutely do the trick.

As a Black woman, the way I’ve navigated the world and the way the world has acknowledged me back is a first-hand, personal encounter that on a macro level has informed the way I operate. But as it pertains to my career in marketing, it’s also shaped the lens through which I view things. Sometimes I apply that lens to more work-related matters like a creative brief for an influencer marketing campaign; but a majority of the time I’m just like everyone else, scrolling through my social media feeds seeking a laugh, an insightful conversation, or even some inspiration for something work-related—and I am far from the only one doing the latter. More on that later.

“The Tea” (The current state of affairs)

We are currently living in a time where information exchanges are instantaneous and nearly limitless, and there’s no place where that’s more visible than social media. 

Via mediums like Twitter, TikTok, and Instagram, millions of microbloggers and content creators share unique expressions of self—or oftentimes just a funny story or grievance—with their followers, which can often operate more like a community. And it’s fairly safe to say that one of the most pronounced and studied social media communities is “Black Twitter” and its ability to drive and push popular culture and slang. (I’ll spare you all the jokes about Black Twitter being likened to Fight Club, because, first and foremost, if you are part of it, one thing you absolutely do is talk about it.) 

In celebratory times, there’s a shared joy expressed by Black Twitter. In times of sorrow, the community bands together and publicly grieves. In times of hilarity, the laughter reaches far and wide. And all of this is typically done in the chosen dialect of African American Vernacular English (AAVE). 

What is often referred to as Ebonics, AAVE is a recognized and legitimate English dialect, but one that is often elusive and difficult to mimic without being fluent in the dialect yourself. In short, if this language is non-native to you, it will easily show. However, because those Twitter jokes I mentioned do reach so far and wide, it’s not uncommon to see attempts at similar turns of phrase or jokes being quickly co-opted into different brand’s social posts or consumer-facing communications—like email subject lines. 

Whether it’s to ride the wave of relevancy or to directly catch the eye of the Black audience, as a consumer, the end goal remains unknown to me—but specifically as a Black consumer, the initial reaction to brands that don’t already align with said culture is a major cringe. My first question is always, “Who signed off on this?” Which is swiftly followed by, “Was not one Black employee asked to weigh in on this?” And with current data for brand marketing jobs showing only 6-7% are held by those who identify as Black, it’s a fairly safe assumption that the latter answer is no.

In industries like fast fashion and beauty that are especially vying for the dollars and attention of the young and trendy, I empathize with the desire to stay as current and up-to-date as possible in your communications—but not at the expense of co-opting language and mannerisms without highlighting, acknowledging, and giving a platform to the community that you’re attempting to profit off of. 

This performative usage of AAVE or capitalization off of Black cultural moments is often merely seen as cringeworthy. But, at its worst, it can be viewed as inauthentic, disingenuous, and opportunistic—and can absolutely turn a consumer away. 

As we have seen in 2020, as many brands and companies engaged in large scale declarations in support of Black Lives Matter, performative allyship can and will be publicly called out. And people are more than willing to pull up receipts regarding a non-diverse workforce, lack of BIPOC representation in content and creativity, and lack of vocal or monetary support to causes that impact Black lives. To sum it up, in these instances it is not in your best interest to “fake it ‘til you make it.”

“PERIODT” (The call to action)

I want to emphasize here that the main takeaway from all of this is not that brands and companies should not engage with the Black community and its culture—that would be a silly way to conduct business. But you should do so in a way that is authentic and true to your own brand of business. While co-opting language and phrases may seem like the lowest hanging fruit available and an easy way to stay current, I would like to remind you that, technically, the easiest fruit to grab is often that which has already hit the ground—i.e. the overripe and mushy fruits, which aren’t particularly enjoyable. 

While I cannot provide a surefire guide for how to navigate the landscape of diversity and inclusion both within your organization and externally with the content you produce, I can provide some insight on how to better maneuver through the terrain—and it starts with hiring and retaining Black talent. As I stated earlier, there is simply no replacement for the experience and POV that comes from being a Black person. And, while the guidance and input Black brand managers can provide on topics such as these is invaluable, I assure you their value adds extend far beyond matters of D&I as well—and that alone makes them quality candidates. 

If your workforce does not remotely mirror the racial and ethnic makeup of the country, I would urge you to look internally as to why that may be the case. As a reminder, systemic racism is not always overt, and oftentimes the status quo is the result of decades-long actions. 

If your entry-level pipeline is mainly sourced by formal interns, but your internships are often unpaid or underpaid, or if your recruitment mainly takes place at certain schools or partner organizations that also don’t have an incredibly diverse makeup, then your recruitment will inherently mirror the pools which you select from. Additionally, if your middle management and leadership are also lacking in diversity, it’s not shocking why someone would be uninterested in “growing” with a company where they don’t see themselves moving up—not to mention the mental and emotional burden that can come from constantly being the only person who looks like you in the room. 

In short: start within. Make sure your recruitment pipeline is inclusive, your workplace environment is supportive and fosters growth for everyone, and company leadership reflects the real world. With these measures in place, you’ll have the resources at hand to make sure your brands are always being challenged internally—which sure beats being challenged externally—and can be steered away from moments of inauthenticity and cheap co-opting long before hitting the “post” button.


With a career devoted to marketing, Anaya Duncan started out in the Insurance and Financial Services industry and is currently a burgeoning brand marketer in the Consumer-Packaged Goods space.

Originally from the Midwest, after graduating from Emory’s Goizueta Business School with her MBA, Anaya is currently located in New York City.

While brand management is her day job, Anaya wishes to further tap into her passion of connecting with people by way of writing and speaking on topics she’s passionate about such as Black Women’s empowerment in business and authentic representation in marketing and media for all people.

Want to learn more? Connect with her on Linkedin!


Visit this page to see more in the series, or check back for our next guest post. CM Group is a family of global marketing technology brands including Campaign Monitor, CM Commerce, Delivra, Emma, Liveclicker, Sailthru, and Vuture. By joining together these leading brands, CM Group offers a variety of world-class solutions that can be used by marketers at any level. Headquartered in Nashville, TN, CM Group has United States offices in Indianapolis, Los Angeles, New York City, Pittsburgh and San Francisco, and global offices in Australia, London, New Zealand, and Uruguay.

This article is part of a larger series that focuses on diversity and equity in marketing through the amplification of Black and racially diverse authors. As a company, we are committed to identifying actions we can take in the fight against racism and injustice, and elevating BIPOC voices is paramount to inspiring change. Follow along and read other posts in this series here.


This post is authored by Le’Shae Robinson, an event planner, digital advertising specialist, and Director of Operations for nonprofit, NoLi CDC. 

Imagine my face when I opened up an ad for a trampoline park that read “It’s lit” with three White kids on it. As the only Black person on my team, I was stunned—“It’s lit” is a term made popular by Houston rapper Travis Scott. 

It was 2016, and I had just landed a job working for a digital advertising agency. My responsibilities included reviewing ads from clients across the country to make sure their ad images were the right size, URLs pointed to the correct website per the ad, double-checking the demographics the ads were supposed to be targeting, and making sure budgets aligned with clients’ expectations.

Basically, I was quality control for the team before they entered the ad into the platform and it was pushed to customers. It was here where I learned how racism plays a part in digital advertising.

Cultural appropriation in 2020

Cultural appropriation was the result that came from running ads that said things like “It’s lit” while not showing any African American people. It’s an old American story to profit from parts of Black culture without reference. It’s especially hurtful when it comes to music: We can’t forget how Elvis Presley went on to become the King of Rock and Roll, but heavily studied Black musicians and mimicked their singing and dancing styles. The artists who influenced him saw nowhere near the amount of success Elvis did—that is the true problem with cultural appropriation.

The digital ads this agency ran also contributed to inequality. One story in particular that stands out to me was an ad for a private school. The ad encouraged viewers to apply, showcasing the advantages of what their school offered. The demographics specifically targeted Caucasian people. I found it interesting that the client specifically wanted to target that demographic. Instantly I thought, “Wow.” What if there were other races who might be interested in what the school had to offer? 

I voiced my concern to the team, and they, too, thought it was odd. However, the sales rep for the account insisted this was what their client wanted. We could have changed the demographic before we entered the order, but we feared what would happen if the client got applications from people outside of the targeted demographic. Would they dump us as an agency? Our backs were up against the wall.

I had to wonder how many qualified candidates of color missed the opportunity to attend the private school because the ad was targeted only to White people? I grew up going to public school and had an overall good experience. There were times, though, when I experienced situations I’m almost certain didn’t happen at a private school. (For example, 13 fights in one day taking away from learning time.) Imagine my parents being exposed to advertising for a private school. Would I be more accomplished? Would I have a better professional network? Would I have a better job? I’ll never know.

Stereotyping as a means of marketing 

Stereotyping target audiences is another way racism rears its ugly head in the digital advertising industry. 

An order came through one day for mouth grills. The image for this ad was a mouth grill that featured gold teeth in front of a black background. The ad ran as a mobile ad, which meant it would be displayed only on cellphones and other mobile devices. What made this racist? It specifically targeted Black barbershops and people who had a household income of $40,000 or less per year.

When advertisers showcase items like mouth grills to people who frequent Black establishments or don’t make a lot of money, it reaffirms certain stereotypes. The client likely missed out on sales because of this bias. There are plenty of people who own a mouth grill and make significantly more than $40,000 a year. In today’s climate, wearing a mouth grill is similar to wearing other accessories like earrings, necklaces, or watches.

If someone were to attend a Travis Scott or Migos concert, there is a high chance they would see concert-goers wearing a grill. These are the same people who have office jobs and can afford high-dollar concerts. They just don’t wear this accessory to work.

Consequences of following orders

Processing these orders, I often reflected on the true consequences of cultural appropriation, inequality, and stereotyping by running these ads.

Right now there is a call for racial equality. But it was my position as a quality control specialist that taught me racial equality is more than just asking for cops not to kneel on people’s necks. As our technology continues to evolve, racial equality could look like advertising educational opportunities to all people; giving Black people an opportunity to model in ads that use cultural references; finding a way to give credit to the origin of a particular phrase. There are many possibilities. 

The call I make for advertising professionals is this: when working on projects, ask yourself, “How will this influence other cultures? Is there an opportunity to honor other cultures through this work? Is there anything about this project that would negatively impact another culture?” 

Challenge yourself today not to just do your job—ask the tough questions and find innovative ways to make clients make more money while also fighting racial inequality.

It is possible.


Le’Shae Robinson is a jack of all trades. She has worked as an event planner, digital advertising specialist, and now as the Director of Operations for the NoLi CDC (a nonprofit that works to better housing and economic development in Lexington, KY). She also enjoys writing and providing social media management to local small businesses. Recently she won an award for a social media campaign that she led where her client earned the most meals per capita in an effort to fight hunger awareness. You can read her most recently published work here. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family, learning new recipes, and listening to Beyonce.


 

This article is part of a larger series that focuses on diversity and equity in marketing through the amplification of Black and racially diverse authors. As a company, we are committed to identifying actions we can take in the fight against racism and injustice, and elevating BIPOC voices is paramount to inspiring change. Follow along and read other posts in this series here.

This post is authored by Tray T.S. Deadwyler, a civic strategist, servant leadership coach, and national service expert.  

Though our world and work are continually changing, being mentally nimble and mindful is essential to adjusting to the ever-ebb and flow of life. 

Some of us at this very moment noticed the word “mindful” and immediately thought of meditation and yoga attire, or maybe a crystal bowl and chants. Others may be thinking of affirmations and theta-wave soundtracks. But there is vastly more to the practice and application of mindfulness in our lives. 

Simply stated (though not as easily practiced), “Mindfulness is focused attention, on purpose, at the moment, and without judgment.” Mindfulness is a skill. It is to be developed, improved, and enhanced within all of us. Mindfulness traverses the various contexts of our lives and makes us better humans and better leaders.

It enables us to be more present, introspective, empathic, vulnerable, courageous, and authentic. I believe these are characteristics of the people and leaders we want and need in our lives, workplaces, and communities. These characteristics could also be considered modes and manifestations of the same. The more you practice, the more you become. 

How deploying mindfulness elements could affect our day-to-day

For the sales and marketing teams, it shows up in every campaign, every event, and every ask. Having a better grasp of what your customers and clients care about may produce a better result. We can also agree that connection is our ideal and goal, so our communication must be authentic to our company’s brand, vision, and values. 

Mindfulness shows itself by taking another look at the scheduled email to ensure it is the right moment for what is happening globally. It is checking the “Yes” box for speaking to the gap while also checking “Yes” to being vulnerable and reflective, ensuring our personal biases are not skewing the copy.

For the CEO, it may look like “the second ask” during the morning coffee break. You may notice anguish or confusion on the face of a team member who is typically upbeat and magnetic. Being present, you listen carefully to a canned response (we have all been guilty of this) and discern that their response isn’t congruent with their physiology.

It takes courage and empathy to ask again, “How are you, really?” In that simple inquiry, you have allowed for vulnerability and introspection at that moment. Maybe they need a listening ear or are feeling stuck on a particular challenge. Taking a few moments to be right there in the moment can mean the world to team members and yield immeasurable results. 

For the finance team, mindfulness allows us to effectively communicate why a decision was made. It marshals emotional intelligence to foster an understanding of your current state while having the ability to appropriately respond to others within the organization. Budget cuts can have some pretty personal consequences, but I have found over the years that when we can thoroughly explain the why, how, what, and when, changes seem to be a little more palatable.  

And at home, many of our relationships could benefit from us being a little more attentive, having courageous communication, and forming congruency of thought and actions, consistency in the peaks and valleys, an open heart and mind—all while becoming our truest, most authentic selves. 

Unfortunately, these elements of being mindful are not always dispensed toward people of color in the spaces we live and work. If we are to be mindful of this moment, there must be intentional vulnerability and presence with active ears to global protests and cries for justice and equality. 

The challenge and the triumph of the mindful leader is internal and external awareness. Being present and introspective also means you are constantly searching yourself for biases, prejudices, limiting beliefs, and judgments about yourself and others. We live our lives from the inside out; how we interact with the world is merely a reflection. The authentic and courageous leaders we admire to avoid placating and passive conversations. They step up to correct the missteps and their indignation compels them to act.

Next steps

Some questions to consider:

Did you find some of these questions difficult to answer? That’s a start. It can be challenging to determine where to go when we don’t know where we are. 

One way to begin is to try this simple exercise when you have a moment:

After the time has ended, ask yourself: 

This simple practice can help you with the first element: Presence. Continue this practice for at least once a day and increase the time as you feel more comfortable. Keep a log and identify any patterns. The goal is for you to notice how much your attention is focused on the now

Imagine our homes, communities, and workplaces with more presence, introspection, empathy, vulnerability, courage, authenticity, and inclusivity intentionally in play. What benefits do you foresee? What challenges do we need to overcome? How can you personally encourage an environment where mindful lives and leadership thrive?       

This mindful journey begins with self-study and responsibility and ends with cultural change. May you be and become the mindful leaders for moments such as this.


Tray T.S. Deadwyler is the Founder of Think for Good, which supports leaders and organizations to increase their efficacy through creative ideation, planning and implementation. Think for Good works collectively with their clients to push beyond the conventional to develop innovative solutions. embodying the company mission, “Solve it Together.” They are committed to systemic problem-solving and co-creating a theory of change to achieve success in any area of life and leadership.

  

Affectionately known as the “Service Nerd” by his colleagues, Tray focuses on developing cross-sector solutions and training professionals to effectuate empathy in communities. With service to the community at his core, Tray’s civic and professional transcript spans organizations such as the American Red Cross, Atlanta Police Department, Communities in Schools, Morehouse College Spelman College, Points of Light Foundation, and the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps, Angels in Distress, Love Beyond Walls, and One World Link. 


Visit this page to see more in the series, or check back for our next guest post. CM Group is a family of global marketing technology brands including Campaign Monitor, CM Commerce, Delivra, Emma, Liveclicker, Sailthru, and Vuture. By joining together these leading brands, CM Group offers a variety of world-class solutions that can be used by marketers at any level. Headquartered in Nashville, TN, CM Group has United States offices in Indianapolis, Los Angeles, New York City, Pittsburgh and San Francisco, and global offices in Australia, London, New Zealand, and Uruguay.

This article is part of a larger series that focuses on diversity and equity in marketing through the amplification of Black and racially diverse authors. As a company, we are committed to identifying actions we can take in the fight against racism and injustice, and elevating BBIPOC voices is paramount to inspiring change. Follow along and read other posts in this series here.

This post is authored by Alice Li, a Principal Email Engineer at Litmus. 

Early on in my career in email marketing, a new director joined my team. On our welcome lunch with him, he made time to chat with every one of his new reports to get to know them. When it came to me, however, all he wanted to talk about was his frequent trips to Thailand. I made it clear that I had never been to Thailand, nor was I Thai, so I had no context for anything he was saying and was honestly puzzled as to why he kept pressing the topic.

Later on, an Asian colleague (who was also, decidedly, not Thai) revealed to me that the director did the exact same thing with him, yet went on to speak with our white colleagues about their actual hobbies and interests. It was difficult to avoid concluding that this director simply didn’t see past our race when it came to relating to us, and therefore wouldn’t take the step to get to know us as individuals who could speak on topics outside their ethnicity.

These aren’t unusual or isolated incidents. Asians in America are often stereotyped as homogenous monoliths and perpetual foreigners. It didn’t matter that my colleague and I were both Chinese American; Thai was close enough, right? Aren’t all Asians basically the same anyway? The “American” part clearly didn’t factor in either. We were all American and therefore already had a shared culture to draw from—one that I’m definitely more familiar with than Thai culture. 

These microaggressions are akin to behavior that many Asian Americans face on a regular basis in the workplace. They may seem trivial on the face of things but are rooted in a long history of anti-Asian racism in America that still has a substantial impact on the lives and livelihoods of Asian Americans today.

In recent months, COVID-19 has shone a new light on the old problem of anti-Asian racism. On top of a massive increase of hate crimes against Asians and Asian-run businesses as well as the resulting spike in mental health crises, Asian Americans are now experiencing the highest increase in unemployment filings among any ethnic group—a 10,210% year-over-year increase versus 3,222% for Latino Americans, 2,904% for white Americans, and 1,927% for Black Americans. 

Xenophobia and the model minority myth

It’s become exceedingly clear that the coronavirus has unearthed the xenophobia that many had presumed buried beneath the so-called “Model Minority” myth. Coined in 1966, the Model Minority myth “characterizes Asian Americans as a polite, law-abiding group who have achieved a higher level of success than the general population through some combination of innate talent and pull-yourselves-up-by-your-bootstraps immigrant striving” according to Tolerance.org

Although many Asian Americans have embraced this as a positive stereotype, it actually subverts the progress of racial justice not only for other BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) communities but also within the Asian American community itself.

The Bamboo Ceiling

The supposedly “good” stereotype of the Model Minority contributes to the harmful phenomenon of the “Bamboo Ceiling.” Coined in 2005 as a variation on the “Glass Ceiling” metaphor that stunts women’s career paths in the workplace, the Bamboo Ceiling is another example of a barrier that prevents Asian Americans specifically from climbing above a certain point on the corporate ladder. This is substantiated by the fact that Asian Americans make up 27% of the corporate workforce, but occupy less than 14% of executive roles and only hold 2.6% of Fortune 500 board seats while making up almost 6% of the U.S. population

How is this massive underrepresentation at the top levels possible, if we experience “good” stereotypes? The double-edged sword of Asians being perceived as heads-down, quiet but diligent heads-down workers undercuts many traits that corporate America would deem “leadership material”—i.e., assertiveness, risk-taking, and confident communication. It also prevents Asians from receiving the support they need if they don’t live up to what’s expected of a Model Minority—not only on an individual basis in school or at work, but also on a macro level where Asian Americans receive proportionately far less funding for social services despite having the largest wealth gap and rates of poverty.

Breaking down all racist stereotypes

On a societal level, the Model Minority myth has also been frequently used to drive a wedge between Asian Americans and Black and Brown folks. With the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, and so many others throwing #BlackLivesMatter into focus recently, many corporations, marketers, and individuals have been asking how they can communicate their support for the Black community. 

One of the first things that we Asian Americans can do is to bust the Model Minority myth and the associated stereotypes of passivity in order to stand up against white supremacy in solidarity with Black and Brown folks.

Asian Americans have historically benefited from Civil Rights progress that has been pushed forward by Black people, and have historically stood by the Black community during the Civil Rights Era. It’s time to rise to the occasion again. 

Casual racial microaggressions that Asian Americans often encounter underscore a far more destructive legacy of xenophobia and anti-Asian racism. Although the Model Minority myth has since whitewashed this history of racism, continuing to feed into “positive” Model Minority stereotypes of us does far more harm than good in the long run. Not only does it impede our career paths by supporting the Bamboo Ceiling, but it also allows Asian Americans to be used against Black and Brown people as examples of why systemic racism doesn’t exist. But we know it does, especially with COVID-19 reigniting old prejudices against Asians across the globe.

It’s time for us to unite in solidarity with other BIPOC by pushing for anti-racist practices— not only in the workplace but also for the rest of society. With Asians representing a significantly larger portion of marketing professionals in comparison to other BIPOC, we must use our collective voices to demand anti-racism in the workplace. Here are a couple of resources I would recommend:


Alice Li (she/her) is a total geek for email creation, from design to development. She began her career in email marketing immersed in the world of ESP creative agencies since 2007 at Epsilon, Responsys, and Oracle. From there, she went on to serve as the sole email developer for Shutterstock as well as working as a UI engineer on the UX team towards the end of her tenure there. 

In her role as the Principal Email Engineer at Litmus, Alice remains a passionate evangelist for interactive and accessible email. She is honored to have spoken at Email Evolution Conference 2017 and 2019, Litmus Live conferences from 2017-2020, UNSPAM 2019, and to have received the 2018 EEC Stefan Pollard Award for “Email Marketer of the Year” as well as the 2020 Validity Email Hero Award for “Most Innovative.”

Although based in New York City, Alice was raised on the east side of Detroit, MI where she was lucky to be educated in social justice by Black women from an early age. As a Chinese American individual with “actual hobbies and interests,”, Alice justifies her occasionally regrettable BFA by painting artwork for galleries and publications as well as writing pop culture articles. When not under lockdown, she is also physically incapable of resisting a karaoke lounge, a ping pong table, or a tea parlor. You can follow her at @AliceLiCode.


Visit this page to see more in the series, or check back for our next guest post.

 CM Group is a family of global marketing technology brands including Campaign Monitor, CM Commerce, Delivra, Emma, Liveclicker, Sailthru, and Vuture. By joining together these leading brands, CM Group offers a variety of world-class solutions that can be used by marketers at any level. Headquartered in Nashville, TN, CM Group has United States offices in Indianapolis, Los Angeles, New York City, Pittsburgh and San Francisco, and global offices in Australia, London, New Zealand, and Uruguay.

This article is part of a larger series that focuses on diversity and equity in marketing through the amplification of Black and racially diverse authors. As a company, we are committed to identifying actions we can take in the fight against racism and injustice, and elevating BBIPOC voices is paramount to inspiring change. Follow along and read other posts in this series here.

This post is authored by Dela Quist, Founder and CEO at Alchemy Worx and Touchstone Intelligent Marketing. 

“You look at where you’re going and where you are and it never makes sense, but then you look back at where you’ve been and a pattern seems to emerge.” 

– Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Like many others, email marketing professionals have had a challenging time since the coronavirus epidemic took hold. They’re doing their best to keep up with and bridge swiftly shifting consumer sentiment and changes in our work practices.

Despite, or perhaps influenced by, our overwhelming preoccupation with the pandemic and global lockdown, the Black Lives Matter movement has taken center stage. So much in fact, that most companies are (re)considering their position with regard to their messaging. Several major brands are even undertaking reviews of logos and communications in light of the now-global protests and wider conversations around racial equality.

This change is not entirely altruistic; it is also driven by what seems to be a fundamental shift in consumer attitudes toward businesses. There is plenty of recent evidence that people trust a business more than the government. Whether the issue is animal welfare, the environment, or the systemic prejudice faced by people of color, many look to businesses to take the lead, so to speak, in solving these problems. 

More concerning for marketers, as this slide from a deck we prepared for a client illustrates, this has been accompanied by a clear shift in expectations. 

A fundamental shift in consumer attitudes and how actions matter more than words

Since the arrival of the coronavirus epidemic, consumer regard for brands that understand “ethical marketing” has skyrocketed. However, it comes with a huge caveat. As the graphic above shows, it is no longer enough just to have an ethical position or voice support for an issue. You have to demonstrate that commitment. Today more than ever, actions matter more than words. It doesn’t matter how well-intentioned your statements are; you lie open to accusations of virtue signaling when your brand conspicuously expresses its values without actually taking actions to live by those values.

Email, one of the only channels that makes it easy to express your displeasure with the messenger, poses a particular danger to your brand. People regard messages in their inbox as personal, and are certain to let you know via the unsubscribe or worse, the spam button.

Which brings us back to Black Lives Matter. The protests and outrage sparked by the killing of George Floyd understandably dominate the discussion. But to me, protesting the death of a man at the hands of the police is something almost any person, brand or marketer would willingly sign up for. It makes it easier to look in the mirror and say, “that’s not us.” Or, “Our industry is not racist and neither I nor my colleagues even see color.” (More on that later.)

For me, the more uncomfortable questions are those which address the wider issues: How the systemic lack of opportunity and equality faced by people of color leads to certain incidents, such as we witnessed, which culminated in the tragic death of a man.

Think about it. It was clear from the outset that the police officers involved saw their actions as routine, bystanders were treated as irritants getting in the way of a person going about their job—getting another Black criminal (aren’t they all?) off the streets. So “everyday” even, that calling it murder may almost seem too strong to some. Without that video, many people would instinctively have sided with the police. When I watched it, and I made sure to watch it from beginning to end, the thought that sprang to my mind was, “George Floyd was euthanized!”

Population diversity is an indicator of what our actions say. 

Now this is where things may get a little uncomfortable.

The marketing and advertising industry prides itself on shaping popular culture, pushing boundaries, and influencing perceptions. In fact, if you think about it, our budgets almost entirely fund every “free to consumer” social media platform.

A good example of how we can affect change is to consider the increase in the number of people of color we see in advertising on a daily basis. In fact, if you take the percentage of non-white people in email creative compared to the share of the population, you could even argue that we overdo it. In doing so, might we not have found it easy to look in the mirror and say, “we are not the problem, we can black out our Twitter accounts, go on protest marches or observe Juneteenth—all with a clear conscience?” However well-intended this may be, isn’t this just optics? Isn’t it about looking good, or being performative? Are we not all guilty of the worst kind of virtue signaling?

Let’s dig in a little more and take a look at the following stats relating to ethnic diversity within the advertising and marketing industry. It’s embarrassing.

Here is a look at the makeup of the UK, courtesy of Marketing Week in January 2020.

And these are the US numbers, thanks to ANA’s Diversity Report for the Advertising/Marketing Industry published in November.

For what it’s worth, Blacks in the US comprise approximately 13 percent of the total population. In the UK it is 4 percent.

Frankly, this is unacceptable. No matter how much we might protest, our actions tell the world that Black people aren’t good enough to work alongside us, or signal that white people are better. From a marketing perspective, we chase the Black dollar but are also quite comfortable not having a representative number of Black people work alongside us. It is this mentality of systemic racism, a quiet feeling that white people are better, that can influence a police officer to shoot first when dealing with a Black person and think first when dealing with white folk.

“Not me,” I hear people cry; “I don’t even see color!”

Really?

Maybe that’s the problem. If you don’t see color, then you can’t or won’t notice that everyone of consequence in your department is white, or that everyone at the agency you work with is white, or spot the inherent irony of a whole bunch of white people brainstorming how the brand should position itself with regard to Black Lives Matter.

The inherent problem of “I don’t see color”

When I walk into a room full of white people, I notice. In the same way that any white person walking into a room full of Black people would notice too, but that rarely ever happens in our industry. As far as I am concerned, what people mean when they say they don’t see color is that they are comfortable with the level of color diversity that surrounds them. And that needs to end.

We need to start telling the truth about color. We all notice it, but it’s easy to pretend we don’t when we are surrounded by people who look like us.

I have tried very hard to make sure that no one reading will interpret this as an attack on who or what they are, or feels the need as an individual to be defensive. But that in itself highlights how very complex the issue of diversity is. This, for me, is about raising awareness.

“‘Is it hard?’

‘Not if you have the right attitudes. It’s having the right attitudes that’s hard.’”
– Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

I think we, the email marketing industry, could take a meaningful role in doing something about the lack of diversity around us.

How email marketers can take a meaningful role

There are two reasons the email marketing community is especially well-positioned to act on diversity:

People: Those in email marketing are part of a very strong and nurturing community. I took part in a fun panel at the Email Innovation Summit recently. It was “Family Feud” meets email marketing, and one of the questions was “What do you like about email?” The number one answer by far was the people. And I agree! As part of the community, I believe if we put our minds to it we can collectively make a difference.

Education: Email marketing stands alone in the quality and range of skills entrants will learn and hone. Whether from another industry or straight out of college, anybody joining the space will quickly be given actual responsibility. Ask anyone who has ever worked in email marketing where the time they spent within our space ranks in terms of their career and it is usually at the top or thereabouts. Whether we like it or not, the email department acts as a feeder for other better-funded channels attracted to the superb training and superior skill sets. This makes what we do in attracting Black people into email even more valuable.

Here are a couple of things we can all do:

Let’s stop being comfortable with the idea that “good” Black people are hard to find, or that by working harder to find a Black person to hire you are in some way lowering standards. It never stops us from going the extra mile to hire someone who went to the same institution as you, attends the same church, or made the rowing team in college.

Pay particular attention to entry-level hires. While I can just about tolerate the concept that finding experienced marketers of color may be a (self-inflicted) challenge due to scarcity, I cannot accept that about entry-level or graduate hires. To do so is to imply Black people are inferior. I would also argue that it will be a lot easier and faster to make our diversity numbers less embarrassing, while simultaneously priming the pump, in terms of providing more qualified people of color for more experienced roles in the future.

“The truth knocks on the door and you say, “Go away, I’m looking for the truth,” and so it goes away. Puzzling.”
– Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Recognize and address your prejudices.

Everyone carries some prejudice—myself included. What I have learned to do, and would encourage everyone to also do, is recognize your own prejudice(s)—skin color, accent, school, neighborhood, income, dress sense, tattoos, sexual orientation, height, weight, gender, religion, politics—everyone has at least one. Once you do, make sure every time you are privileged enough to be the one choosing between two or more people for a job, speaking role, network opportunity, or even to sit beside on a bus, ask yourself if your prejudice is the dominant factor in your decision. It is amazing how powerful that pause for thought can be.

You have to be totally honest with yourself, and recognize that what others think is irrelevant. If your prejudice is still the dominant factor on a consistent basis, then shame on you.

I, therefore, challenge the email marketing community to step up. We are where we are, but I would rather we actually take action than spend hours wringing our hands over it. Start noticing!


Dela Quist is founder and CEO of Alchemy Worx and Touchstone Intelligent Marketing, a suite of software products based on a unified proprietary infrastructure that records and analyses all previous campaign data history. He estimates he has clocked up over 20,000 hours thinking about email.

A popular international speaker on all matters email, and his thought-provoking views and lively style regularly receive rave reviews. “Dela always takes a contrarian view that gets the industry talking – and often gets the smartest email folks to rethink their views,” says Loren Macdonald, IBM Watson Customer Engagement Evangelist/Agency Success.

Dela served many years as a member of the UK DMA’s Email Marketing Council. He also served on the executive management group of the IAB, and on the steering committee of Future of European Advertising Stakeholders (FAST).


Visit this page to see more in the series, or check back for our next guest post. 

CM Group is a family of global marketing technology brands including Campaign Monitor, CM Commerce, Delivra, Emma, Liveclicker, Sailthru, and Vuture. By joining together these leading brands, CM Group offers a variety of world-class solutions that can be used by marketers at any level. Headquartered in Nashville, TN, CM Group has United States offices in Indianapolis, Los Angeles, New York City, Pittsburgh and San Francisco, and global offices in Australia, London, New Zealand, and Uruguay. 

This article is part of a larger series that focuses on diversity and equity in marketing through the amplification of Black and racially diverse authors. As a company, we are committed to identifying actions we can take in the fight against racism and injustice, and elevating BBIPOC voices is paramount to inspiring change. Follow along and read other posts in this series here.

This post is authored by Angela Connor, Founder and CEO of Change Agent Communications.

Marketing, communications and advertising professionals know “the room” I’m referring to very well. From an agency perspective, it’s a room that not many people get the opportunity to spend time in. This is a special room, reserved for the cream of the crop—the persuasive, the impressive, the charismatic, the experts, the leaders. The winners. These are the people who can sell who they are and what they do so well that they are most often on the receiving end of a “Yes,” to their ideas, being deputized as the “Chosen ones,” while all others are forsaken. 

If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m talking about the pitch room: The room where it happens. What begins as an invitation to present in the room evolves into a project that sometimes feels like icing a 35-layer cake, no detail forgotten. Getting there is exhilarating and exhausting. Emotions run the gamut. Sometimes there’s yelling, always a spirited debate, an abundance of late nights and maybe even tears. Stress levels are high because there’s so much at stake when you’re part of the team charged with bringing home the bacon. There’s also some fun leading up to it when you’ve got the right team with the right chemistry, all who are in it to win it. 

It’s an honor and a privilege to be on the pitch team. I’ve been on it more than my fair share. I’ve been part of some amazing wins and a few gut-wrenching losses. I’ve traveled on red-eye flights, run full-speed through airports with my colleagues, sat in the back of minivans, crammed in a few sedans, and even rehearsed in hotel lobbies—honing my skills over the years as part of pitches big and small. In fact, I believe that’s one of the reasons I’m good at selling myself and my own agency today. It’s hard to lose a spot on pitch teams once you’re established as being good in the room. 

I suspect that, from the brand or company side, it is also a privilege to be in “the room where it happens.” Though it may be daunting to review agency responses, whittle them down to a list of finalists and then sit in on lengthy presentations—all usually within a very compressed time period—and then participate in a huge decision with a ton of money at stake in most instances, it’s an important and coveted position to hold. There, too, you will find the cream of the crop, the leaders, the introspective, the key stakeholders. The decisive, whose input is highly valued by the organization.  

Now let me tell you what is missing from this room where it all happens, on both sides: people of color, particularly African Americans. I was always the only one on my side, and of all the pitches I’ve experienced, I know I’ve never seen more than five to seven African Americans total, and I may be exaggerating by one or two. 

It was so rare that when I did see someone who looked like me, we usually had a moment. A handshake during introductions that lasted a few extra seconds than the others or a look that had meaning to both of us but that no one else noticed. And on a few occasions after we’d presented, I even got a motherly hug.  

For me, it was usually an African American woman, slightly older than me, who would give me what I coined “the sister wink.” I even opened up one day and told a few of my colleagues about this wink, explaining what happens when a Black woman on the brand side would see me, another Black woman, lock eyes and tell me without saying a word how proud and delighted she was to see me—and that her colleagues would see me as well. 

Sounds like a heartfelt warm and fuzzy tale, doesn’t it? Well, it isn’t. You know why? Because it’s not right, and the fact that it happens speaks to some of what is very wrong about the lack of diversity in both agencies and marketing teams in companies across the country, which also speaks to the opportunities afforded (or not) to those who could or should be in “the room where it happens.” 

For an industry charged with, and supposedly rooted in, connecting brands with their target audiences, the lack of representation of those audiences in the increasingly fragmented, ever-evolving media environment we live in today is stunning. No, shameful. 

Oddly enough, if and when there’s a call for a multicultural campaign, the people who match the demographics sometimes magically appear as an option for being in the room, or better yet, a partnership with another agency must be established to make it appear that the agency is diverse and represents the audiences the brand is trying to reach. I know you know what I’m talking about. 

It’s a little hypocritical in my opinion to do this, but what’s worse is not learning from having done it. If you come back after that partnership and fail to hold a mirror up to your own organization, ask tough questions, scrutinize hiring and promotion practices, and make diversity and racial equity a priority, you’re contributing to the problem.  

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are not and should not be matters of convenience. You don’t parade a group of people out when the RFP (Request for Proposal) calls for it but never consider them outside of that. It must be part of your internal DNA to be sure that everyone can get a seat at the table. Then you must invest in them and prepare them for a coveted spot in “the room where it happens.” 


Angela Connor is the Founder and CEO of Change Agent Communications, a two-year-old boutique PR and Strategic Communications Firm in Raleigh, North Carolina, that helps organizations navigate change and communicate when the stakes are high and they have stories to tell.

She’s a veteran journalist and speaker, author of “18 Rules of Community Engagement,” and very recently launched a new consulting practice within her firm called “Now Look Inward,” and an accompanying podcast, which she calls a challenge to Corporate America to sweep around its own front door, get its house in order and make Black voices matter throughout the organization.

Committed to serving the business and creative communities in her region, Angela opened Triangle Podcast Studio in April, and launched the inaugural Women Inspiring Women Conference in 2019.

Angela also pens a weekly newsletter called Women Inspiring Women Weekly.


Visit this page to see more in the series, or check back for our next guest post. CM Group is a family of global marketing technology brands including Campaign Monitor, CM Commerce, Delivra, Emma, Liveclicker, Sailthru and Vuture. By joining together these leading brands, CM Group offers a variety of world-class solutions that can be used by marketers at any level. Headquartered in Nashville, TN, CM Group has United States offices in Indianapolis, Los Angeles, New York City, Pittsburgh and San Francisco, and global offices in Australia, London, New Zealand and Uruguay.

This article is part of a larger series that focuses on diversity and equity in marketing, as we are committed to amplifying the voices of Black and racially diverse authors. Follow along and read other posts in this series here.


This post is authored by Kevin Tyler, Insights Director at Ologie.

Cause

So, a little background: I was born in Columbus, Ohio, to an extremely light-skinned mother and a much darker father. My mother was so light in fact that, as the story goes, at a very young age I announced proudly to her, after a nap:

“Mom, I’m glad that you and I are white and Dawn [my sister] and Dad are black.” 

True story.

My mother, who swiftly corrected me as soon as the ‘k’ of ‘black’ crossed my tiny teeth, loves telling that story—even to this very day. It was the first time, as my mother tells it, that she was aware that I was aware of race. She says that, as proud as she was of my observation skills at such a young age, it was also the moment that the world, for me, would never be the same. It was the loss of a certain kind of innocence.

As I continued to grow, other things changed too, of course:

My parents got divorced.

My father married a white woman.

My mother married a black man.

I discovered I was gay.

It’s also important to note here that when I was growing up and finding out I was gay and being raised in predominately white neighborhoods, it meant that I never felt like I fit in. I was too White for the Black kids and too Black for the White kids and too gay for everybody. So, I was just different in a way I couldn’t explain at a young age.

And while this might feel like too much information right up front (I mean, we just met and you already know most of my life story), it’s important to set this groundwork for the conversation we are about to have about some commercials I like to think about in my work.

The short version though is this: the life I’ve lived is the lens through which I see the world.

More importantly though, as it relates to marketing: the life I’ve lived is also the lens through which I see marketing.

*****

In the past eight years, there have been three ads that, for one reason or another have stuck with me. Ads that spoke to those parts of me—the ones described above—that I’d never seen from a brand before. They were ads that made bold proclamations: That everyone sleeps. Everyone eats. And (almost) everyone drives. And that their ads, and by extension, their brands, should reflect that. Those three ads are:

Sealy Mattress – 2012

Eight years ago I was in my early-30s and had yet to see a commercial as bold as this one from Sealy. This ad, called “What you do in bed” didn’t just feature a gay couple, it featured an interracial gay couple. And the brand didn’t stop there. They continued with what I still think is one of the first and boldest moves a known brand has ever made: making the viewer imagine a gay couple doing the things couples do on a mattress. It was an important ad for me, as a gay dude in an interracial relationship, to see my life—my story—reflected in a national television ad.

Cheerios – 2013

Just a year later came this ad from Cheerios that ended up making national headlines for all of the worst reasons. By way of the dreaded “comment section” the brand was taught that not everyone in the country was used to or approving of, an interracial relationship. The ad (and the response it got) made both the morning and evening news show circuits. But Cheerios stood strong and ignored the criticism. A brand making a move like this meant that it was a brand that recognized relationships and families like mine. And to this day, when I see an ad that features a multiracial family, I think about this Cheerios ad.

Subaru – 2019

The last ad that I carry with me is one from Subaru. It’s an ad that’s not entirely surprising, since the Subaru brand has trained us what to expect: shots of camping, bonfires, forests, and other features of Mother Earth. What made this ad special? The featured couple was Black. For me, it took until 2019 for there to be a black couple to be camping in an ad on my television. It was a moment that actually made me sit up on the couch and stare at the screen. It was important. Not because I love camping, but because it was a new version of a commercial that’s been played to death, and that made it exciting. It was a different version of black people than what we normally see depicted. And that’s what made it so important.  

Those ads had an impact on me because the stories they told were, in one way or another, connected to the life I was living or had lived. They were ads where I could see myself—I felt counted and like I mattered. They were ads where I was included.

Effect

I work in marketing. I’ve done it in some form or another for about 17 years. I’ve worked in electoral politics, health care, insurance, and now higher education. I’ve worked on all sorts of communication projects for clients of all sizes and kinds.

I’ve been in my fair share of meetings about making commercials or writing marketing emails.

And what I’ve realized about those three ads listed above is that while they are incredibly important to me personally, they are even more important to me professionally. I like to think that the impact those three ads had on me was because of one, brave soul, in one seemingly trivial meeting about yet another commercial.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand that in order for me to have had the experience I did with those ads, a series of brave acts had to occur, one right after another. But that sequence of important decisions may have started with one, thoughtful person.

As marketers, we have great power. We have the power to reinforce messages, or introduce new complementary ones. When I think about how seeing those ads felt for me, even as recently as last year (for that Subaru one), I think about how the decisions I make each day in my job could be impacting someone I will never know.

It’s the butterfly effect.

At a time when the country is having important decisions about race, racism, and inequalities of all kinds, the role of marketing and the people who do it is elevated. We have the opportunity to ask new questions, make new decisions, and possibly change people’s perspectives—every single day.

Listen, I get it. Marketing is or can be gross at times. It can seem like a decision is made simply to make a buck. And while I won’t fight you hard on that (at all), I am a firm believer that while you make that dollar, you can also make some change. The more often marketers and advertisers make bold decisions to actually reflect the diversity and beauty of this country, ads like the ones I’ve mentioned will be once-a-day rather than feel like once-in-a-lifetime.

So what I’m saying is this: Be that brave soul in that seemingly trivial meeting about yet another commercial, and change the world.


Kevin Tyler is based in Columbus, Ohio, and is the Insights Director for Ologie, a marketing and branding agency specializing in higher education, arts and culture organizations and non-profit projects. More of his writing can be found here.

In his spare time, he runs a food blog on Instagram (@TheFullBellyBlogger), reads voraciously and lives with his partner Greg and dog Nigel. He also recently launched #StopKillingUs, a social media campaign aimed at reframing the narratives of the black community.


Visit this page to see more in the series, or check back for our next guest post. 

CM Group is a family of global marketing technology brands including Campaign Monitor, CM Commerce, Delivra, Emma, Liveclicker, Sailthru and Vuture. By joining together these leading brands, CM Group offers a variety of world-class solutions that can be used by marketers at any level. Headquartered in Nashville, TN, CM Group has United States offices in Indianapolis, Los Angeles, New York City, Pittsburgh and San Francisco, and global offices in Australia, London, New Zealand and Uruguay. 

This article is the first in a larger series that focuses on diversity and equity in marketing, as we are committed to amplifying the voices of Black and racially diverse authors. Follow along and check back for other posts in this series.

This post is authored by Amma Marfo, a writer, speaker, and digital marketer based in Boston, MA.

As the United States continues to painfully and publicly reckon with its racist origins, you’ll likely see a number of Martin Luther King, Jr. or James Baldwin quotes circling. But my writings today are best summarized by a quote from Marian Wright Edelman: “You can’t be what you can’t see.” Viola Davis invoked its sentiments in 2015, when she—only five years ago—became the first Black woman to win an Emmy Award for Leading Actress in a Drama. As she accepted the award, she said, “You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there.” 

The piece below is an individual reflection I shared with my personal email list, but its reflection questions and calls for visible representation are important for any sort of communication. What does it look like to be seen, and understood, and included in your organization? Can those to whom you write see themselves as part of your world? And how are you working to make it so—not just in optics, but in organizational composition, governance, and impact? 

This may seem like a lot of weight to place on a looping image. And in some ways, it is. So diffuse that weight. Don’t leave it to images to show your commitment to equity and justice. Show it in your hiring. Show it in your promotions and leadership structure. Show it in your work every single day. Let the images you use in your communications be but the entry point of your dedication to equitable, just work.

Source: Giphy

A recent history of GIF’s evolution

Yes, the pronunciation debate rages on. I’m not here to correct you on it, I promise.

I remember, in my sophomore year computer science class, learning how to make animated GIFs. The technology (in 2005) was less sophisticated, it was used FAR less, and I was only partially paying attention because it was a Wednesday night class and I had vowed loudly to drop it the first time the professor ran long enough that I missed Lost. (He never did, so I didn’t have to.)

But in recent years, I’ve learned to have fun with GIFs, playing with them as a form of expression, a supplement to stories or jokes I’ve wanted to tell, and to share emotions that I—even as a writer—couldn’t always pin down with words.

At some point, the effort felt incomplete. And that realization came in tandem with several other realizations that I shared in my piece for Femsplain, “The Wake Up Call.” The realization, as with many others during that time in my life, was one of representation. When I shared a GIF, it was indicative of what I was feeling, or wanted to say…but it was hard to find people that shared that emotion or sentiment that looked like me. Actually, I’ll own that the previous statement is incomplete. It was hard to do, and I had never considered the implications of why.

From “The Wake Up Call”:

My reset is vocal and it is visible. It shows when I seek to elevate the voices of colleagues and leaders in my field of higher education who others might not see. It shows when I help lift black students to their highest potential because I know few others are looking out for them. It shows in small ways, like accenting pithy tweets with GIFs featuring Black faces (which are too hard to find, by the way — who’s working on that?); and it shows in big ways, like forgoing my former “TV Christmas” — the Academy Awards — because I couldn’t see myself in it anymore.

I’m so thankful that conversations are expanding to recognize that being able to see yourself in a piece of art—a book, a film, a TV show—is a right that is extended to far too few people. And the result? When I wanted to express an emotion through a GIF, I was using imagery that featured white males, sometimes white females.

When anyone who deviates from these highly available norms can see themselves in a narrative, in the world, it matters. It matters when Luke Cage allows millions of comic book enthusiasts to see themselves as something other than a sidekick, as the New York Times would apparently rather relegate them. It matters when most actors in high profile roles with disabilities are played by those without—save an exception on this season’s Speechless. It matters when celebrated creators like Tim Burton shirk their ability to create these worlds, leading to responses like this beautiful and heartbreaking thread from one “blerd.” And it matters because, in the absence of proper representation, hurtful and offensive stereotypes can persist unchecked.

My decision to change the way I “GIF” (that’s a verb there) was part of a larger reset, but it’s something I pay far more attention to than most people might think. And luckily, I have an answer to the “who’s working on that?” in Jasmyn Lawson (formerly of GIPHY and now with Netflix), who is very open about the work she’s had to do at GIPHY to make diverse GIFs available for those who shared my concerns. Her efforts, paired with ones like Jesse Williams’ Ebroji and Kevin Hart’s Kevmoji has literally placed a new face on digital expression, and it’s one I’d love to see more of. But in addition to showing others that there are options, there’s another deeply personal reason that the seeds of change in GIFing matters to me.

My friend Matthew opens most of his standup bits by disarming the audience about how they perceive him when he hits the stage. With descriptors like “‘80s movies have taught you not to trust people with my hair and bone structure” and “incorrectly assumed to be a lacrosse player,” he calls out the idea that people who look like him are usually labeled the villain. To be quite clear, he’s not; Matthew is lovely and brilliant and hit the genetic/good human lottery in an embarrassing number of ways. But he looks it. So he closes that portion of his set by saying “I want you to know that I know.”

And to me, choosing to pick GIFs that look like me does that. A big part of the wake-up call that I wrote about earlier this year was about challenging my understanding that I push what many expect of “people who look like me.” In ways small and large, I defy expectations—which is heartbreaking if I think about it for too long. But these small but consistent reminders that I’m as much an Issa Dee as I am a Liz Lemon, as much an Oprah as I am an Ellen, and a Retta more than anything else, remind those around me that I’m not trying to “transcend” or “defy” anything. This is who I am, this is how I see myself, and this is how I want you to see me.

So the challenge that I issue to you this week isn’t as active as usual, but nevertheless: Look around you. Look at the images you see. Who’s elevated? Who’s relegated to second- or third-class status? How do you know? And what can you do to even the playing field, from the picking of a GIF to the elevating of a voice?


Amma Marfo is a writer, speaker, and digital marketer based in Boston, MA. The tagline under which she unites her work: “using stories to create community.” She is also the author of three books: The I’s Have It: Reflections on Introversion in Student Affairs (2014), Light It Up: Engaging the Introverted Student Leader (2015), and Cultivating Creativity (2017)

Amma is a dynamic and sought-after speaker on topics such as leadership, group dynamics, creativity, and values-based organizational change. She speaks on college and university campuses across the country, at regional and national conferences, and has partnered with organizations like HubSpot, Wayfair, Pfizer, and TEDx.


Learn more about Amma on her website.


Visit this page to see more in the series, or check back in a week for our next guest post. 

Liveclicker is part of CM Group, a family of marketing technology brands focused on changing the world of business. Campaign Monitor, CM Commerce, Delivra, Emma, Liveclicker, Sailthru, and Vuture compose CM Group, and each brand is supporting the battle against racism by elevating the voices of Black and indigenous people of color.

How do we look?

We’re ecstatic to finally be taking the wraps off our total makeover of the Liveclicker web experience. Our new look and layout make it easier for marketers to get the help and information you need to level up your email marketing with moment-of-open personalization. 

The biggest differences you’ll see as you click around the site? For starters, a fresh new look and attitude that better aligns to our focus on service, along with a smoother, more user-friendly mobile experience.

What hasn’t changed? 

Our commitment to provide better service, results and communications with our customers remains steadfast.

Every step of our site and brand update has been designed to help you find information, guidance and support to get the most out of your experience with moment-of-open personalization. Thank you for being our inspiration to never stop improving!

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on the Litmus blog.

If you utilize Litmus Builder to build and code your emails and use Liveclicker to power dynamic content in your campaigns, you’ll love Liveclicker’s newest Chrome extension—RealTime Email Content for Litmus Builder. The new extension integrates Litmus Builder with Liveclicker, making it easy to access and embed real-time content without toggling back and forth between tools.

We sat down with Jen Fahey, Director of Product Management at Liveclicker, to get the scoop on the brand new extension:

What’s RealTime Email Content for Litmus Builder?

It’s a Liveclicker integration, delivered as a Chrome extension, that provides email developers a fast and easy way to access powerful real-time content right from within Litmus Builder.

What’s your motivation behind building the extension?

We know a lot goes into building great emails, and we’ve built this integration to make life easier for email developers.

Before this extension existed, a developer would need to log into Liveclicker’s RealTime Email platform, find the campaign for which the real-time content embed tag was needed, copy it, and toggle back to Litmus Builder to add the code. While hardly arduous, it wasn’t the ideal workflow. With this new integration, developers can save time and more readily access the personalization capabilities that Liveclicker is known for—all from within the comfort of their favorite development environment.

How does the RealTime Email for Litmus Builder work?

The extension is integrated into Builder projects and snippets, so email developers can easily access Liveclicker embed codes while coding email templates.  

Once the Extension is installed, new Liveclicker buttons within the Litmus Builder interface allow developers to retrieve a list of all live Liveclicker campaigns, so they can easily add the embed tags for those campaigns into the HTML. And if you’re using LiveData—that’s Liveclicker’s analytics feature—you can easily add that through the extension, too.

Check out the video above to see the extension in action.

How can you download the extension?

RealTime Email Content for Litmus Builder is available on the Chrome store. We’d love for you to give it a try and let us know what you think! If you have any questions or feedback, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at support@liveclicker.com.