—It is Black History Month, and every day this month, The Message will be sharing short profiles of Black professionals from across the industry: marketing, advertising, PR, media and production. Written by POCAM members, the profiles are a way to “fight invisibility,” an exercise in representation for an industry where representation must get better—
Tcharli Mathurin, Lightspeed’s director of brand strategy and experience marketing, was drawn to the industry 15 years ago because of its ability to connect with people, drive engagement, and influence consumer behaviour. But, as with many BIPOC professionals, his path to success was long and far from straight.
“There were very few of us,” he says. “It required a tremendous amount of consistency, perseverance, and commitment to building relationships.”
He was often the first BIPOC hired for each job he took, and so had no BIPOC leaders to lean on or consult with. “However, I was blessed to have very supportive and open-minded leaders that believed in me and were willing to champion me,” he says.
Mathurin always understood that his path would be more challenging, and that he needed to stay level-headed and ensure he left the door open for those who followed.
He credits his immigrant parents for equipping him to deal with the bias and racism he faced along the way. “My brothers and I were raised with very thick skin… conditioned to expect the worst,” he says. This allowed him to focus on the bigger goal, and not let things bring him down.
Today, Mathurin feels excited by the progress being made by BIPOC marketing professionals. “I’m no longer alone,” he says, “There’s a whole new generation hungry to leave their stamp on our industry… it gives me energy to push forward in an effort to break the glass ceiling around executive and C-Suite roles.”
He believes the industry needs more BIPOC executives at the helm of major brands and marketing organizations. “I think this would elevate the cultural relevance of Quebec and Canadian brands, and contribute to BIPOC economic weight and societal influence,” he says.
Mathurin has always led by example, doing whatever he could to create opportunities for future BIPOC generations and sharing insights to help them on their journey. He tells young talent to not skip ahead too soon as they rise professionally. “Put in the work,” he says, but also “never settle in the pursuit of your ambitions.”
He cautions marketers against trying to do too much with their campaigns, as it prevents brands from doing their best work. He looks forward to a return to inspiring, creative work that doesn’t just aim to achieve short-sighted performance marketing metrics. “Less is more,” he says.
From 2016 to 2018, Mathurin led the strategy and execution of Fido’s title sponsorship at Montreal’s Mural Fest, which included a giant street mural, two free block parties with some 10,000 attendees, events and in-store activations, branded content and a 360-degree marketing campaign.
Being the guy behind this iconic Montreal festival’s epic nights, while attracting massive urban artists like ScHoolboy Q and Post Malone (photo above from 2017) for Fido was a true career highlight, says Mathurin.
Recommended for this series by Ingrid Enriquez-Donissaint.
Gavin Barrett is CEO and chief creative officer of Barrett and Welsh, and a member of People of Colour in Advertising & Marketing’s steering committee.