Roy Broderick Jr. is the current founder and CEO of Authentique Agency. He has over ten years of experience in Marketing and Branding, working with companies like Fox Filmed Entertainment, The University of Florida, Turner, and Allstate. He earned a BSc in Telecommunications from the University of Florida, and he is the Vice President of DEI at the American Marketing Association (Atlanta Chapter).
What inspired you to start Authentique Agency?
I started Authentique on the principle of doing agency differently. In my career, I’ve been blessed to be on the client side of work, representing both corporate brands and studios. We frequently partnered with agencies. I thought, “okay, let me go and work for an agency so I can learn how to sharpen my skills.” I started to work at a white-owned agency, made them a lot of money, started growing it, and began to feel like I was running something that didn’t belong to me. There were specific practices when we received a campaign request or proposal. I felt like when we would get something LGBT-focused, they would throw it at me, stating, “We know you’re gay, so you’re the one that can do this.” Hearing things like that made me shine away from being at the organization. And so, I decided to stop working for agencies in general. I went back to the client-side and was a marketing director for a nationally recognized insurance company, which was the most boring job of my life.
“ I wanted to build a place where people could be their full, authentic selves. Where they could feel safe and could be celebrated for the different parts of their identities and not have to suppress them“.
I always tell people that I stepped into that role, thinking my team would empower me because they were marketers, but they weren’t. I was not feeling inspired. While I was on a vacation trip with one of my good friends, a teacher in Brooklyn, New York, at a predominantly African American school, she talked about her work where she felt the most empowered. She was pouring into little Black and Brown minds every day. At the time, I was making three times her salary, but I remember sitting in the car with her, and I said, “I don’t feel this way about my job. I don’t feel like I’m giving back enough to the world. This isn’t it”. So, I decided to quit my job on that trip and ultimately resigned upon my return. In my last two weeks there, the idea of starting an agency came to me. I wanted to build a place where people could be their full, authentic selves. Where they could feel safe and could be celebrated for the different parts of their identities and not have to suppress them. Also, people would be appreciated for what they bring to the table besides getting the work done—their contacts, knowledge, experience, diversification of thought, etc. I never want a room of folks who always agree with me. I want us to have healthy debates and challenge each other. That’s what I’ve been able to build at Authentique.
What do you think are some of the challenges facing brands today?
Great question. I think, in general, brands have a decision to make. Either they will see the future with millennials and Gen Zers, understanding that we require them to align with our core values. If they don’t, then they’re going to churn and burn. This requires them to do more than speaking about issues when someone is murdered or donate money during a specific cultural occasion such as Black history month. They will need to recognize and acknowledge our genius. If they can do those three things, they’ll survive, continuing to have the market share to have their products or services used by future generations.
I think they must decide where they will take the organization. They must understand that multicultural is the new general market. Black folks, brown folks, folks in the rainbow, we lead it all. We’re the trend. So if you get us on board, you’re good to go because everyone follows us. I don’t have to go into all the reasons. They also need to look internally and answer: “hey, we can attract this type of talent, but can we retain them? Are we giving them the space? Are we giving them the flexibility? Are we creating communities within?” This is vital because you can work for a huge company, and they do an excellent pride event every June, and you still feel like an outsider.
How do you continuously make sure that they are in it to win it with you and make sure that they are thinking about the future? Finally, I would urge brands to look at the data. The data clarifies that Gen Zers and millennials like to blur the lines. We don’t want to see color all the time necessarily. And we look at a person for all their identity. It would help if you thought about the intersectionality of identity.
That’s brilliant! So, do you think there is a connection between branding and diversity?
“There is a need to increase investment into diverse brand development because people want to see themselves, but they also want to see differences.”
So, all the insights and analytics show us that Black and Brown audiences specifically like to see positive images of themselves. We don’t want to know the stereotypical drug addict, the stereotypical thug, the stereotypical loud, angry Black woman. That’s not us. We know that can be a part of us at times, but that’s not all of us, and that’s not everyone’s story. I think there is a connection between branding and diversity. There is a need to increase investment into diverse brand development because people want to see themselves, but they also want to see differences. I want to see a multiracial gay couple in an Advertisement with their adopted children shopping at a store, buying whatever products, and getting into their car so that we can aspire. Viewers will feel like they see us, but they also understand that we are human. They also know that I have some of the exact needs that my heterosexual, heteronormative peers have. So, I absolutely think there is a connection from a branding and diversity standpoint.
What advice do you have for upcoming brand architects?
The first thing I’ll say is to keep learning and always ask questions. There is always something you can learn from someone, regardless of where they are in their journey. Whether they’re just starting out or whether they’ve been in the game for 30 years, there is a lesson to learn. The second piece of advice would be to know what you bring to the table. Be very clear and concise on your expertise, knowledge, and why it matters. If you can speak that to any client and be solution-based, you’re in it to win it. And finally, it would be don’t give up. Don’t take “no” as an answer, especially when you’re doing something that’s not the norm. When I started the agency, and I said it would be a multicultural agency, folks were like, “that doesn’t make sense. Why would you box yourself in that way?” And I was like, “Well, that’s my expertise.” I wanted to grow it that way. I’m not going to send out an advertisement or marketing campaign that does not give a head nod to multicultural consumers because I know who’s driving the culture. I know who will be next in leading us in the workforce and the household purchasing decisions. More than anything, do not give up and remember that resilience is our superpower as people of color, especially LGBTQ+ folks, so embrace it.
I love that resilience is our superpower as people of color. Thank you so much for your time, Roy.