Microsoft: Stephen Kim’s Passion for Diversity is Personal
Before Stephen Kim, VP, Global Accounts and Agencies at Microsoft, got to the task of moderating a panel about cultivating the next generation of talent during Advertising Week 2013 in New York, he opened the session with a painful revelation.
The son of Korean immigrants, Kim spent much of high school with one classmate never addressing him by name, but instead calling him “gook” for four years straight. Perhaps even more painful, he said, was that no single other classmate, teacher, parent or administrator intervened to stop the verbal bullying.
That experience, Kim explained, is one of the catalysts fueling his passion as an adult to bring diversity and inclusion to the work place, and more specifically to the advertising and marketing industries.
“Our business faces a really serious challenge that’s based on a rather odd contradiction,” Kim told a packed house at the Times Center Stage auditorium. While the need for the marketing industry to keep pace with change in the way consumers communicate, consume entertainment and exchange information has never been clearer, marketing practitioners do not reflect the changing demographics of those consumers, he said. “We’re doing a fairly lousy job as an industry in keeping pace with that change.”
Kim said he has the “fantastic good fortune of working at a place like Microsoft” which takes the issues of diversity and inclusion seriously. It’s also part of what informs the company’s “People first” positioning regarding its devices and services and how it recruits and mentors its work force.
Microsoft is one of the partners of the Marcus Graham Project, whose co-founder/executive director, Lincoln Stephens, was on the panel that Kim moderated. Also participating were 4A’s President-CEO Nancy Hill; Rodney Williams, CEO, Lisnr; and Remy Sylvan and Aidan Sykes from Y5, an incubator agency of the Marcus Graham Project, that uses Microsoft technology for its creative advertising projects.
During the discussion, Kim revealed that Microsoft signed on for two more years as a sponsor of the Marcus Graham Project, which helps develop the next generation of talent for the ad industry through a three-month summer boot camp in Dallas called iCR8 and invites college and graduate school students considering a career in advertising to participate.
The program includes interactive workshops, speaker series, executive coaching, client assignments and visits to iCR8 by executives from ad agencies and marketers. Lincoln Stephens said that 96 percent of iCR8 participants find employment within six months of finishing the program.
Students in this past summer’s boot camp, the fifth one so far, worked on an ad campaign for Lisnr, an app through which users can receive exclusive content from their favorite musical artists.
Lisnr CEO Rodney Williams said he chose the Y5 student agency for some marketing ideas because “we wanted youth and passion” and were impressed by other work they produced.
Y5’s Remy Sylvan and Aidan Sykes explained Lisnr’s brief for the campaign. The company needed recognition and reach, and because its target consumers were 18-25, Y5 decided on an experiential campaign. They surrounded potential consumers with “listening experiences” by deploying physical boxes around a college campus and in a changing room at a clothing retailer so that users who opted into the app, could receive “push” notifications of exclusive new content from artists they like.
Y5 used the Windows 8 platform to define the brand message and the overall look, feel and action of the app in the campaign. Additionally, Y5 extended the app’s capability on two screens—mobile and tablet. Explaining that the content was also shareable, Sylvan said Windows 8 enabled the team to embed Lisnr ad content seamlessly and non-intrusively into the app’s user interface.
After the Y5 presentation, Kim asked both Stephens and Hill what “success” would look like in terms of a more diverse ad industry work force.
Hill responded by praising the collaboration between the Marcus Graham Project and the 4A’s own diversity program, the Multicultural Advertising Intern Program MAIP, some of whose students also went to iCR8.
The ad industry isn’t on the career consideration list of many talented young people, Hill said. Her definition of success is the collaboration between MAIP and the Marcus Graham Project, the access each provides students to the ad community, and the ongoing support around the students as they advance in their careers.
Stephens said success to him meant that the ad-marketing industry nurtured and retained diverse talent long enough for them to advance to mid- and senior-level positions.