Before Eric Harris co-founded Sixth Floor Developers (6FD) in 2004, he spent 15 years in investment banking at firms such as Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs and Fleet Financial—what he calls “the other side of the table.” Working in finance, it turns out, is killer training for a career in creative design and integrated marketing.
“I personally believe digital and financial modeling have similar characteristics,” Harris says. “For financial modeling, the key elements are simplicity, flexibility, innovation and intuitiveness and overall strength of the model in determining a financial solution for the company in question. For digital marketing, the goal is to develop a user experience that is coherent, intuitive, efficient, simplistic and enjoyable, with an eye toward how the online spend helps the company’s bottom line.”
6FD is a full-service agency that specializes in creative design, digital strategy, application development and wireless and integrated marketing campaigns for a variety of clients including Estée Lauder, Sony Vaio and the NBA. Consider 6FD’s creative work for the Pepsi “We Inspire” campaign—a website and online community meant to encourage women to share their sources of inspiration. According to Lauren M. Scott, director of marketing for PepsiCo, what was meant to be just one part of a multifaceted campaign quickly took on a life of its own. “6FD has created a dynamic site with an upbeat message not just for its original target, African-American women, but for people all over the world,” says Scott. “The site previously relied on celebrity icons to assist in driving people to the site, but the user participation is so high we now rely solely on our ‘We Inspire’ community. We attribute much of this success to the innovative ideas that Eric implemented.”
Those capabilities have positioned Harris to make significant contributions not only to the advertising industry, but to organizations and individuals that matter to him personally. Since 2007, his agency has done pro-bono work for the New York-based Council of Urban Professionals and he regularly volunteers his time for the American Advertising Federation. He serves on the boards of two charitable organizations in Brazil, both of which provide health and fitness services for children in the Rocinha slum in Rio de Janeiro.
“After graduating from college I was fortunate to land a job in a commercial lending training program. John Cunningham—an old-school Irish banker—gave me a chance. I never forgot what he did for me and for that I have always been compelled to help others who are less fortunate than I.”
Jacqueline Hernandez believes the mainstream market now has a multicultural face. “As a new America continues to evolve, it is more important than ever that media reflect the true complexion, personalities and cultures of its viewers, users and readers,” says the COO of Telemundo Communications Group. “I see myself in a role to help the industry effect this change, and overall I see a positive industry-wide momentum.”
Hernandez has helped create that momentum. A self-described “insights junkie,” she has been delving into data to reveal how Hispanics fit into the overall culture. She has spearheaded numerous identity studies, most notably “Beyond Demographics—Latino” and “Gen YLA,” both of which explored technology adoption, culture and language fluidity, TV-viewing habits and ad receptivity among young Latino Americans.
“Although there is a lot of statistical data on Hispanics, there is very little psychographic data that gets to the root of what makes them tick,” Hernandez says. “I wanted to do something about that.”
As COO, Hernandez oversees all domestic revenue and marketing; digital media and emerging platforms; mun2, Telemundo’s Latino-youth cable network; affiliate relations and all research functions. But her professional mission doesn’t stop at cultivating a commercial audience—it extends to developing meaningful cultural connections through encouraging programming innovations. Behind the scenes, Hernandez is reshaping how popular media approaches Hispanic audiences. She recently helped launch “Hispanics at NBCU,” a company-wide initiative to boost ad dollars targeting Hispanics.
“It’s clearly a game-changer,” Hernadez says. “In order for marketers to best reach and connect with Hispanics, they need to understand them, identify with them and see new trends, just like with any other audience segment. Overall my goal is to drive continuous insights and initiatives like Hispanics@nbcu to not only positively impact Hispanic media but all media.”
For Hernandez, her work is an expression of her identity and of the community she’s a part of. “The next-generation Latino is redefining American culture by straddling two worlds,” Hernandez says. “This is a new generation of loud and proud Latinos who are as Latino as they are uniquely American. It’s a great story and one that I’m proud to be a part of telling.”