Apr 03, 2024

Inaugural event will tackle VC investment in Black-owned businesses, health equity in Black and Brown communities, the creator economy and more

Blackweek, the economic forum and marketing conference meant to show the impact of Black and Brown communities, has signed its first speakers and outlined some of the content planned for its inaugural event.

The event’s first speakers are also part of Blackweek’s steering committee advising and guiding the event, which is scheduled for Oct. 15-18 in New York.

Steering committee and speakers

The committee includes Alia Kemet, chief marketing officer of Shipt; Trevor Edwards, a former Nike president who is now on the board of VF Corp; Cindy Gallop, founder of Make Love Not Porn; Amber Guild, CEO of McCann New York; Ross Martin, president of Known; Madeline Nelson, U.S. head of independent label relations for Amazon Music; Gary Vaynerchuck, CEO of VaynerMedia; Aaron Walton, CEO of Walton Isaacson; and Katie Williams, U.S. CMO of Haleon.

“Gender and ethnic diversity was important,” said Joe Anthony, founder and CEO of Hero Media and Hero Collective, Blackweek co-founder, regarding the makeup of the steering committee. “Having certain individuals from the white community was important as well, to show that this is a conference for everyone,” he said.

Members of the steering committee will speak or moderate panels during the event and are encouraged to help bring on sponsors.

“We definitely want people who have a history of being outspoken and brave,” said Anthony. “We want people who have found a way to also work within the confines of bigger bureaucratic and politically driven companies and environments and are still finding a way to get things done.”

Gallop will lead a discussion on Black women being the future of advertising, while Vaynerchuk will lead a session called “The Undeniable Influence of Black Creators,” where he will speak with prominent Black influencers, according to Walter T. Geer III, VML’s chief creative officer of innovation in North America and a co-founder of Blackweek.

Guild will lead a discussion on how to get more women into c-suite positions; Kemet will moderate a panel on building a brand through culture and Edwards will lead a talk about his experience at Nike and the power of the Black athlete. Williams will direct a discussion addressing underserved patient populations and the lack of cultural fluency that can create distrust in the healthcare space and Martin’s panel will discuss the creation of the “Jeen-Yuhs” documentary about Kanye West (now Ye) alongside the film’s directors Coodie Simmons and Chike Ozah.

Organizers say Blackweek has sold about 25% of its tickets—early bird pricing is $1,499 and $1,999 for its two packages—and has about half of the panel topics set.

There will be five separate stages at the event, according to Anthony. The main stage will feature big personalities and discussions on macro trends, he said. The health equity stage will focus on health-related issues affecting Black and Brown communities. The culture and creativity stage will hit on topics such as marking the difference between cultural appropriation and cultural authenticity in creative work and the creator economy.

The advertising and media stage will cover topics such as “combating data bias in advertising, the rise of programmatic ad spend, and how that disproportionately affects Black and Brown publishers,” Anthony said.

The innovation stage will focus on the future of tech trends such as AI and Web3, along with VC funding for Black-owned businesses, and startups will speak about what they do or pitch their work. “We’re going to flood that room with Black-owned banks and VCs and other agency executives,” Geer said.

The forum will also include a speed-dating style activation where people can search for job opportunities. The steering committee will also help the founders of Blackweek define a potentially “nine-figure” monetary goal they would like to bring to the Black and Brown community at the end of the event by way of hires, funding and more, Geer said.

Working with sponsors

Sponsored panels will take up about 30% of the slots during the event, Anthony said. One sponsored panel will feature Jon Cook, VML’s global CEO. WPP, VML’s parent company, is a sponsor of the event.

“We want to make sure that everyone who touches the stage are individuals who are doing the work and genuinely do care because what we don’t want is someone to pay to get on the stage who’s not necessarily doing the work, but showing up to basically check a box,” said Geer.

Blackweek’s founders and sponsors will curate the sponsored sessions together, Anthony said.

“We are saying this is what we want you to talk about, and you will sponsor that,” he said. “It’s not like this is 30 minutes for you to promote your DE&I plan.”

This article originally appeared on AdAge.com

Blackweek Presents: Seven for Seven with Monique Nelson


By Hero Collective
Sep 04, 2024

An exclusive Q&A series with the seven founders of newly launched conference Blackweek continues with the executive chair of Uniworld Group


Seven for Seven is a new profile series hosted on Little Black Book with the founders of Blackweek, a new economic forum and marketing conference coming to NYC October 15-18.

Seven questions that dive into the minds behind the economic forum, and what’s in store. A little bit about them, a little bit about Blackweek, and a lot for everyone to think about.

The series continues with Monique Nelson, executive chair at Uniworld Group


Q> What did you want to be when you were 7?
Monique> I wanted to be a singer, dancer, and doctor

Q> Words to live by?
Monique> Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all your self (Eleanor Roosevelt)

Never Stop Learning!!!

You can’t move forward looking backwards.

Do the right thing even when no one is watching (C.S. Lewis)

Q> What made you get involved with Blackweek?
Monique> There has always been a need for a forum to discuss the overlooked, underserved and undervalued growth audiences of the world. The industry is at a true inflection point that is in need of more than inclusion.  It is time for collective innovation, sharing, learning, and ultimately growing our collective community’s wealth.

We embody the most powerful cultural community on the planet.  Everyone adopts what we do, how we do it is time to innovate together and own what we create together.  That is why I got involved in Black Week.

Q> What aren’t people talking about? What aren’t they saying out loud?
Monique> In the inequity of SOWs and rate cards

The lack of onboarding support and guidance

The lack of senior level involvement with most cultural campaigns and assignments

The multicultural agency can’t do the high level thinking they are just the whipped cream and jazz hands.

Let the multicultural agency train our marketing talent and then they will be ready to do general market work

To find out more about Blackweek, click here.

This article originally appeared on lbbonline.com




Blackweek Presents: Seven for Seven with Dabo Ché


By Hero Collective
Feb 04, 2024

An exclusive Q&A series with the seven founders of newly launched conference Blackweek kicks off with the CEO / CCO of CHÉ Creative

Seven for Seven is a new profile series hosted on Little Black Book with the founders of Blackweek, a new economic forum and marketing conference coming to NYC October 15-18.

Seven questions that dive into the minds behind the economic forum, and what’s in store. A little bit about them, a little bit about Blackweek, and a lot for everyone to think about.
Today marks the first in the series with Dabo Ché, CEO / CCO of CHÉ Creative.

1> What did you want to be when you were 7?

Dabo> A ninja.

2> An example of someone throwing a line back to you in your career?

Dabo> So many! But what they all had in common was when I was forced to level up out of my comfort zone.

3> Words to live by?

Dabo> “God bless the child that got’s his own.” -Billie Holiday

4> What made you get involved with Blackweek?

Dabo> The power of unity and organisation has always been a centrepiece to empowerment. If we create culture, we need to have ownership of it.

5> What aren’t people talking about? What aren’t they saying out loud?

Dabo> Having a purpose you’re passionate about in this industry is so underrated. Advertising can suck the life out you if you let it.

6> Who can benefit most from attending Blackweek? Who needs to go?

Dabo> Anyone yearning for a sense of community impact in a way they haven’t felt before. We are looking to build a platform that amplifies the voices that feel unheard.

7> Where’s your industry a year from now?

Dabo> Wherever we take it.

This article originally appeared on lbbonline.com



Jan 15, 2024

The October event will also focus on media, creativity, health care and private equity

“The current state of inclusion in this space is bullshit.

That’s a direct quote from VML’s Walter T. Geer III  in a promotional video for Blackweek, a conference being launched by Black and Latino leaders fed up with the state of industry diversity. The new conference, set for Oct. 15-18 in New York, is meant to break the mold of conversations about diversity and inclusion in the industry

“It’s no secret that inclusion in this industry is under attack,” said Joe Anthony, founder and CEO of Hero Collective and Hero Media, who is one of the founders of Blackweek. “We just haven’t seen the needle move since George Floyd on some of the key statistics that we feel are the metrics to monitor around our upward advancement in the industries where we make a significant amount of contribution but have very little ownership.”

In July, a survey by the 4A’s found that the number of agencies run by white executives increased to 90%. In May it was reported that ad spending on diverse-owned media was just below 2%. In 2022, the ANA reported that just over 7% of its members were Black.

The founders of the Blackweek conference, along with Anthony and Geer, who is VML’s chief creative officer, innovation in North America, are: Monique Nelson, executive chairman, Uniworld Group; Andre Gray, chief creative officer of Havas’ Annex 88; Adan Romero, chief creative officer, FKA Publicis; Dabo Ché, founder, Ché Creative; and Gabrielle Shirdan, founder and CEO, Kitchen Table.


The conference, to be held at Spring Studios in Tribeca, will focus on trade executives in marketing, entertainment, health care and private equity.

“This is a solutions-driven opportunity to come together for real results,” Geer said. “This is not the place where we’re going to come to say ‘We’re coming here to party.’ This is not to come to say ‘We’re going to celebrate us, or we’re going to give awards to us.’”

Organizers said the difference between this event and other conferences will be in the type of programming and how it’s meant to directly challenge business problems

“We would love to see a panel on how can a BIPOC agency get the whole account,” Nelson said. “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].”

The conference will have around 30 to 40 events including keynotes, panel discussions and fireside chats. There will also be networking sessions, opening receptions, brunches and social activities. There will be about four or five talk tracks centered around media, advertising and creative, tech, and health care, Anthony said.

While BIPOC voices will be highlighted, Geer emphasized that Blackweek is not a DE&I conference. It’s more like a “marketing conference meets an economic forum,” Anthony added.

“Eighty percent-plus 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 said.

Sponsors and cost

Anthony said the group is being “meticulous” about sponsors, and while starting to have deep conversations with some, they didn’t want to sign anyone until more information about the event was made public.

“We want every sponsor to come in and have an intentional purpose and have shown a track record or desire to want to improve and help us achieve our message of equity and empowerment,” Anthony said.

Blackweek won’t be targeting a large audience in the thousands, Geer added.

“It’s about how do we keep it small and tight and keep the right individuals in the room to have these right conversations, so when people come here, we don’t expect that someone’s going to sit off to the side and not do anything and just be there to listen,” Anthony said.

The goal for the “premium ticket” event is to target senior executives, Anthony said. With early bird pricing available through March 31, two separate packages are available at $1,499 and $1,999.

“That is an indication of how we’re trying to focus on a certain class of individual within these industries to maintain the high-level decision maker and individuals that can actually have the ability to affect change. That’s really where we want to start, and then we’ll start opening up the aperture in subsequent years,” Anthony said.

‘We’re not on those stages’

The goal was to hold Blackweek simultaneously with Advertising Week, Anthony said. Since Advertising Week hasn’t yet posted a date, Blackweek is scheduled for mid-October, which will potentially be around the same time as the established New York ad industry event.

“The intent [is] to disrupt at that moment while Advertising Week is going on,” Anthony said. “Everyone’s going to be in town at that same time, so there are no excuses that you can’t hop on the subway or hop down a few blocks to come down. 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 actually be attending.”

The founders said they would try to adjust the date if it would help executives attend both conferences.

“The reality is we’re not on those stages with the frequency that we need to be, and that was one of the inspirations for us to do this as well,” said Anthony, referring to events such as Advertising Week, the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity and SXSW. “When we go to all of these events we’re an ingredient, we’re not the full recipe, and we want a platform where it’s all about us. We are the curriculum, we are the topic, we are the focus versus being a bolt-on.”

“To every single one of the trade organizations, if there is even an area for DE&I, it is really small way off to the side somewhere,” Nelson said. “If you don’t get your best friends to come and support you, no one may ever see what you presented.”

When asked if people will pay to be on stage at the conference, Anthony said “nothing is off the table” but the group is not “trying to have people pay to basically placate the culture.”

“What we’re focused on is a very meticulously constructed programming curriculum of people who need to be on the stages because they deserve to be on the stages versus people who’ve paid to be on the stage to self-promote whatever they’re doing,” Anthony added.

Beyond sponsors, Hero Media is funding the event along with contributions and services from the rest of the founders.

Nelson, for example, is helping with sponsorship and soliciting some of the creative output, while Geer is helping with promotion and providing connections, Anthony said.

In total, led by Hero Media, the group plans to spend nearly $3 million on the conference.

Hero Media, along with creative agency Hero Collective, helped produce the promotional film featuring the founders talking about the reasons behind Blackweek’s launch, which will be shared on social media. “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.

Nelson said Blackweek will have a different focus than conferences like ADCOLOR and CultureCon which also have diversity elements, and doesn’t see the new conference as a challenger to other such events.

“There is room for all of us to play a multitude of roles, and each one is important,” said Geer. “We will be a force for change and a space where everyone is welcome.”

This article originally appeared on AdAge.com