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Why Detavio Samuels Left His Job to Start an Agency That Speaks to Black Consumers

A major moment for diverse stories

"Black culture has always been hot, but now it has a platform," says Samuels. Winnie Au


Specs
Name Detavio Samuels
Age 35
New gig President, Interactive One and One Solution/OneX
Old gig President of GlobalHue
Twitter @detavio

Adweek: You've launched a branded content studio that targets black consumers. What is different about marketing to this demographic?
Samuels: In an ideal world, the story will come out of culture that will be relevant for more than just people who are of African-American ethnicity.

Stories that are coming out of black content and lifestyle are hot right now. If you look at things like Unsung, Empire and Blackish, you can see that those stories are very popular. Black culture has always been hot, but now it has a platform that maybe we haven't seen in the past. Content is not just relevant for black people—it's relevant for mainstream culture.

Why is black culture particularly hot right now?
When you look today at things like social media and the whole digital landscape, what's happening is people are uncovering some of these trends in neighborhoods like New York, Atlanta and Miami more quickly [than in the past].

I also think America is experiencing a different kind of openness. We're further from a post-racial society than a lot of people would have liked to say before everything happened in Ferguson and Baltimore, but there is a different level of openness.

I think that's especially true as you make your way through generations. So, people like millennials are open to being influenced by different cultures.

Give me an example of a brand that you've worked with to do that.
We're trying to create content that's right. And then because we sit on top of the only multichannel media platform in the African-American space, we have an incredible system to distribute the content.

If you take Walmart for example, we shot a celebrity cooking show that was rooted in remixing traditional black meals. Those long-form pieces lived natively on HelloBeautiful.com. The whole thing was about remixing fresh ingredients because Walmart was trying to promote their fresh food.

When you came to HelloBeautiful.com to look at any of this content, we controlled the skin [around the video]. And before you watched the two-minute native advertisement, you saw a 30-second Walmart brand spot. If you clicked on it, it took you to Walmart.com where other videos lived as well.

What buzzwords are you sick of hearing?
We need to differentiate between influencers and celebrities.

There's a lot of celebrities who have large footprints, but they're not really active, so they don't get the same kind of an engagement of someone who maybe isn't as popular but has a very loyal following. Anytime we hear brands [saying] that they want to partner with influencers, we're always trying to distinguish between influencers that are popular or someone who can help drive engagement.

You've also worked in global marketing for Johnson & Johnson's medical equipment. What did you learn on the brand side that you're going to apply to your new gig?
I've now been on the brand, agency and media side.

One of the biggest challenges in media is that there are so many people between the brand and the media company, so you don't always hear what brands are looking for. Having been on the inside, I know what they're looking for.

Everyone on my team has come from either the brand side, an agency or an agency and media company. I'm looking to make sure that people have a diversity of experience in terms of their lens, which we then use to deliver marketing work, because I think that's what will make us unique.

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