Kicking off a month-long celebration of Black marketers

Every February since 2019, Gavin Barrett has written short profiles of Black professionals working in Canadian marketing and advertising as a way of celebrating Black History Month.

These personal profiles include people from a broad range of roles across the industry, and spotlight professionals working in both agency and client roles.

The series was inspired by Derek Walker, owner of the South Carolina ad agency Brown and Browner, who first starting profiling Black professionals in 2019. Barrett picked up on the idea as a way of fighting invisibility and celebrating the Black talent found across Canadian marketing.

“[O]ur industry had successfully invisibilized BIPOC folks; it was so bad that even we couldn’t see each other,” said Barrett in a recent LinkedIn post. “We didn’t know where our role models were, which young up-and-comer to take note of, which stalwart had been shining right in front of us forever.”

The series has become a popular feature for The Message, and we’re delighted that Barrett has once again allowed us to provide a platform for his profiles.

But while February might be the shortest month, writing 28 profiles (and 29 in 2020) is still a huge undertaking for Barrett, who also has a full-time job as CEO and chief creative officer of his agency Barrett & Welsh, as well as a role as steering committee member of People of Colour in Advertising & Marketing.

So, while he will continue to write some of the profiles, Barrett has also enlisted other members of the POCAM steering committee to pen some of this year’s articles. The other contributors this year are Aleena Mazhar, Natalie Bomberry, Justin Senior, Joycelyn David and Erik Dela Cruz.

“Each of us will write a few profiles; that means each of us will spotlight these fine people in our own networks, and that’s far more visibility for Black talent than I could ever swing on my own,” said Barrett. And while you’re waiting for this year’s series of articles to get underway, you can find the previous profiles here.

Chris Powell