This year’s Brandweek, Adweek’s flagship annual event bringing together the industry’s brightest minds, is a departure from business as usual on many levels.
It’s the first entirely virtual version of the event, and features an extra day just for industry professionals who are unemployed or furloughed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Brandweek Masters Live, which kicks off today, also marks the launch of a new initiative designed to help brands diversify their marketing vendors—and to help underrepresented founders get into the supply chain at some of the leading global brands.
To help them fulfill that mission, Adweek invited over 100 ad agencies, marketing and production firms, and other solution providers to attend the weeklong event free of charge as part of the new Brandweek Lift program. These diverse companies run by people of color, LGBTQ professionals and people with disabilities—many founded by women—are some of the best in the industry.
Too often, multicultural marketing firms are approached only for campaigns that aim to reach a specific minority community. But in order to ensure the success of underrepresented professionals, and to ensure that brand identity resonates with an increasingly diverse world, brand marketing leaders must commit to working with new ideas, new voices and new markets.
The 114 solution providers listed in the Brandweek Lift directory (linked below) illustrate a wide range of expertise and talent. Some have a proven track record of decades in the multicultural marketing space, while others branched off just this year to found new companies for a new era.
There’s experiential and event producers like Captivate Marketing Group, which has spent eight years creating unforgettable star-studded Black-centered events for BET, ADCOLOR, Essence Festival and more. There’s Outbranding, a transgender-owned Texas promotional products concierge founded in 2007 that’s adapted to the new normal by offering face masks emblazoned with any logo. And there’s full-service advertising agencies helping brands reach Hispanic and Latino communities (d’exposito & partners), Asian communities (TDW and Co.) and LGBTQ communities (Gay Times/GTX).
Brandweek Lift is also full of new faces and new ventures. Before founding her new influencer marketing platform Curastory in 2019, Tiffany Kelly was a data scientist doing sports analysis for ESPN. Before launching her brand consultancy Creative Lens Mgmt this year, Ashley Randle devised brand strategy for restaurants in her native Columbus, Ohio. And while David Cole founded his organizational collaboration technology platform Uhai in 2019 as well, he boasts seven years of experience in the collaborative tech space.
The professionals and firms attending Brandweek through the Lift initiative are geographically diverse, too. From lesser-known markets like Fargo, N.D. and Kalispell, Mont. to vibrant communities as far away as South Africa, Brandweek Lift helps expose brands to vendors with new perspectives that can help them better relate to consumers in rural, international and small town markets in addition to industry centers.
During the course of this week’s Brandweek events, Adweek will be working to encourage marketers to use the conference platform to search for firms with the Brandweek Lift logo. Using the app, marketers and minority-owned firms can connect directly, exchange messages and set up meetings with the click of a button.
Brandweek is always an unforgettable experience, and this year is also shaping up to be the most impactful yet. With Main Stage speakers like Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Ryan Reynolds and Dwyane Wade, and marketing leaders from purpose-driven and community-oriented brands including Ben & Jerry’s, Ally and BET, this year’s Brandweek is all about coming together to make the world a better place. Check out the full schedule of panels, Masterclasses and events.