The Marcus Graham Project
The Marcus Graham Project is a 501(c)(3) organization purposed toward the development and advancement of the next generation of diverse thought leaders within the advertising, media, and marketing industries. The Marcus Graham Project (MGP) mission is to provide long-term access to informational, technological, financial, and personnel resources that will strategically develop a viable pool of diverse talent and leadership within the industry.
The Marcus Graham Project started as a seed planted in the mind of one of its founders, Lincoln Stephens. The program is titled after Eddie Murphy's Marketing Executive character in the cinematic film Boomerang. As he prepared to graduate college from The University of Missouri-Columbia it was suggested that he start a network of diverse professionals in the advertising industry. Stephens kept this in mind as he began his career, noticing that in the agencies where he worked he was one of the only African American males in the company. It was during the summer of 2007 while working for Carol H. Williams Advertising in Chicago that Lincoln began to write out this vision, which included an online social networking site.
In November 2008 after watching the election of America's first African-American president, Barack Obama, Stephens and several colleagues including Larry L. Yarrell II, George A. Peters II, Benny L. Walk and Jon Goff asked one another, what they will do to create change in our country. They're answer was to begin to put they're dreams in motion. Stephens immediately quit his job in Chicago and moved back to his hometown of Dallas to bring his idea to fruition. Stephens began to gain community support to pilot the iCR8 Bootcamp, Sound Bite, and GO Fund programs.
In the summer of 2009 Stephens had garnered enough community support to pilot MGP's first Bootcamp. The Bootcamp developed into a 10 week program put in place to gather, train, and hone the skills of ethnic males with a passion for advertising and marketing. The 7 2009 bootcamp members gained much attention while working with Project 7, Broccoli City, WFAA 8, and other environmentally conscious companies. The program has earned a considerable amount of media recognition having been featured in Advertising Age, Black Enterprise, and Ebony magazines for its initiatives. In June 2010 The Marcus Graham Project was granted 501(c) 3 status . Because of the 2009 bootcamp's success a plethora of industry wide support was thrown behind the 2010 bootcamp, which is currently working with clients such as AT&T, and Globe aware.
List of Founders
The founders for The Marcus Graham Project were:
- Benny Walk
- Brandon Byrd
- Courtney Hill
- George A. Peters II
- Jamil Buie
- Jeffrey Tate
- John Casmon
- Jon Goff
- Kenji Summers
- Larry Hancock
- Larry L. Yarrell II
- Malcolm Gillian
- Mike Tresvant
- Ralph Lee
- Richard Harvey
- Rudy Duthil
- Will Murphy
- Will Davison
- Bill Sharp, Former VP/Advertising Manager, Coca-Cola USA; Former SVP & General Manager, Burrell Adversting; Retired President & Founder, Sharp Advertising
- Calvin W. Stephens, Chairman and President of SSP Consulting, L.L.C.
- Cathy Brown, Director of Client Services at TPN
- Cynthia Nevels, President of CynthiaNevels.com
- Gina Bianchini, Co-founder and Former CEO of NING.com
- Dr. Jason Chambers, Associate Professor in the Department of Advertising at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
- Jonathan P. Hicks, Senior Fellow at the DuBois Bunche Center for Public Policy at Medgar Evers College
- Larry Powell, VP Account Director at Sanders Wingo Advertising
- Nancy Hill, President and CEO of the 4A's (American Association of Advertising Agencies)
The Marcus Graham Project's social networking site, The Network, is an online community for young professional males interested in advertising, marketing and media. The platform allows members to connect and forge a support system to assist with career development.
iCR8 (Summer Bootcamp)
iCR8 is The Marcus Graham Project's summer bootcamp program. It is specifically designed to provide diverse aspirants in the field of advertising and marketing with the exposure and experience necessary to solidify careers within those industries. The summer long program, held in Dallas, TX consist of relevant topical case study and development of marketing/media concepts in response to selected topics. Bootcamp initiates are chosen through application, portfolio review, and in-person interviews held during the spring. The program will also be produced as a docu-reality program to further expose diverse audiences to careers in the industry, as well as showcase professionals already working in the field. The bootcamp piloted during the summer 2009 with 7 participants.
The challenges of the 2010 bootcamp include creating a campaign raising awareness around global issues for a variety of clients including Globe Aware, a non-profit organization that promotes cultural consciousness and sustainability by implementing community projects in various international host communities. The team will create a national campaign centered on mainstreaming international service experiences, acquiring a passport and the importance of the cognizance of global culture. Bootcamp members will also conduct a national research campaign in collaboration with AT&T. The selected bootcampers will produce radio spots (PSA), online media content including: Viral PSA, podcasts, Twitter ads, Facebook ads, as well as the production and execution of a community event as a final project. The industry segments that this campaign will be designed to provide insight into travel & tourism, social service, and lifestyle/entertainment. The program will include a crash course in content development (advertising, social media, entertainment), followed by rigorous concept development, production and presentation exercises.
Prior to the official start of the program the bootcamp members also created their own full-service advertising agency entitled MetaThinQ. MetaThinQ operates as an extension of The Marcus Graham Project.
The Drum is an online radio program that gives MGP members the opportunity to connect real time with guest host who will provide helpful information on industry topics and trends, as well as offer any helpful advice to those who tune in. The show is cast each Sunday at 4PM CST on Blog Talk Radio. Past shows topics have included, "Japan is Hot, What's Next?", "Social Responsibility in Marketing", "The Future of the Automotive Industry", and "Post-Recession Recovery".
The Drum refers to the beat of the industry, and the beat makers that are pounding away. This online program is the voice of the new Mad Men. The name "The Drum" specifically comes from the Robert Downey Sr. film Putney Swope, which referred to the drum as their method of fast communication. In the past drums have been used not only for their musical qualities but also as a means of communication, especially through signals. The talking drums of Africa can imitate the inflection and pitch variations of a spoken language and are used for communicating over great distances. Episodes of The Drum are available on demand via Blogtalkradio and iTunes.
The Jacqueline Factor
A compliment to The Marcus Graham Project. The Jacqueline Factor (JF) is a "good ol' girls club" designed to empower and connect a network of women in the fields of marketing, advertising, and media. The advancements that women have made in what has typically been deemed as a "good ol' boys club" of men is incredible. However the work is not over in terms of leveling the playing field for women.