The Talented Others

John Seaton, producer, circa 1980

“There’s no such thing as a job called, ‘getting paid.’ You got to know what you want to do with your life.” — John V. Seaton

Historically, the advertising industry has never been a breeding ground for diversity. In 2016, the numbers continue to stress that we still live in the Mad Men era. Yet, a closer look reveals resilient individuals, who look and think differently, who have garnered success in spite of it. Unfortunately, many of their stories have never been told. I find this alarming.

Minorities in advertising seemingly live behind a veil of invisibility, which makes it hard to inspire people to follow in their footsteps. My life is the antithesis. I’m a Black man with 17 years experience in creative advertising, who only got here by emulating another Black man in the industry, my Dad.

My father, John V. Seaton, entered the ad industry in 1970. He literally worked his way up from an internship, to being an Executive Producer. During much of my childhood, he was on the road, traveling well over 200 days a year at times. I saw it all first hand, the work ethic, the Super Bowl commercials, the awards, plus the people he worked with — famous directors and celebrities.

The entire experience seemed magical, yet very ordinary. I was also aware that he wasn’t the only Black person in his field. There weren’t many, but I had the pleasure of meeting his handful of Black peers. I knew Black copywriters, art directors, producers and directors. They weren’t mythical creatures. I had seen them, touched them, heard their stories. So traveling the world, impacting culture, rubbing elbows with who’s who in Hollywood, none of it ever seemed mythical to me.

It was possible, simply because people who looked just like me, had convinced me it was.

I want advertising to feel just as attainable for young Blacks, Latinos, Asians, women, members of the LGBT community and people with disabilities. That’s my inspiration for my new podcast, The Talented Others. The podcast aims to shed light on minorities in advertising. My hope is new heroes will emerge, as well as a new generation ready to surpass them. The first episode is up and features my Dad. Take a listen and support the movement. One luv.