What is “The Whats Her Name”?

TL;DR “The What’s Her Name” is the first digital publication and trend report to examine marketing and advertising from the perspectives of women of color working in the field. Tag us on social with #TheWhatsHerName.

Photo credit: Aricka Lewis (via unsplash.com)

It all started with an uncomfortable experience…

I looked down at my hands for the third time to avoid eye-contact with the woman seated across the table. She’d asked, “Why is it so offensive? They’re just being kids.” And her gaze unconsciously (or consciously) rested on me. In a large conference room full of marketing, PR, and communications professional, I was the only person of color and I felt like I wanted to disappear. It was my second day on the job and I was going to have to explain — to a room full of people I wanted to impress — why the internet was so offended by the positioning of the only African American model in the latest ad campaign. “It’s not like — what’s her name, again — wasn’t an important part of the shoot. Allie just happens to be leaning on her in this shot,” someone said while passing around the Instagram post. No one else seemed to realize that they had forgotten the other model’s name.

…and every industry has its hidden figures…

I love marketing and advertising. Somewhere between college psychology and grad school architecture, I unwittingly fell in love with making people feel a certain way about a product/service/idea/offering and then convincing them to take action. As of 2018, I’ve spent 6 years working in the industry in agencies, for brands, as a freelancer, and now as the lead in my own studio. But I am no David Ogilvy, Leo Burnett, or Ray Rubicam (let’s add in Don Draper for pop culture’s sake). There are no female or person of color equivalents to these magnates.

Halle Berry as art director Angela Lewis in the movie Boomerang (1992). This was the first time I heard of a Black woman working in advertising…though she was a fictional character. (via GIPHY)

So I spent many a meeting, brainstorming session, creative review, and weekly check-in as an “only”. The only woman. The only person of color. Damned to be a double minority for both. And, having to answer questions like I speak for all. But it doesn’t have to be that way. This isn’t a sob story. There are many talented women of color behind-the-scenes of some of your favorite brands and campaigns, with insights just waiting to be heard.

…so we’re giving her a name and a voice.

We are the first digital publication and trend report to examine marketing and advertising from the perspectives of women of color who are actively working in the field. It’s a curation of voices from intern to CMO on the inside and outside of major brands and agencies, indie favorites, and startups. We are a resource and a community for the voices of women of color in marketing and advertising because it’s about time.

EDIT: For those who were wondering…I spoke up in that meeting.

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Interested in writing/contributing a piece? Follow this link or tag us on social with #TheWhatsHerName.