Reflections from today’s Black Marketing Professionals/Lundy Marketing Group

March 1, 2021 | blog | By Rachel Brittenham
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In celebration of #BlackHistoryMonth, LOOMIS presents Reflections from Today’s Black Marketers, an interview series where Black marketing professionals discuss how the industry has changed since they started in the business, and how they’d like to see it change in the future.

Episode 4 features a conversation between Rachel Brittenham and Larry Lundy, founder and president of Lundy Marketing Group.

REFLECTIONS from Today’s Black Marketing Professionals — Larry Lundy

In the fourth and final episode of Reflections of Today’s Balck Marketing Professionals, Rachel interviews Dallas Marketing legend Larry Lundy. Larry has an impressive track record including time spent with Advantage Market Group, ESPN Wide World of Sports at Disney World in Orlando and eventually started Lundy Marketing Group. Keep reading to learn about how Larry got his start into the marketing industry.

Rachel Brittenham:
Welcome back, everybody. My name is Rachel Brittenham. I am a senior media buyer with the Loomis Agency. And this is the final interview that we are doing in our series on reflections of today’s Black Marketing Professionals, with the Loomis Agency, for Black History month. And I’m so excited to have today’s guest. He is a long industry professional. He specializes in sports marketing. He has his own company, Love Net… Sorry I’m pronouncing it wrong, Lundy Marketing Group. And he has been gracious enough to join us today. Give us a virtual hand clap for Mr. Larry Lundy everybody. We’re excited. Welcome Mr. Larry, how are you doing today?

Larry Lundy:
Thank you, Rachel.

Rachel Brittenham:
Good. Good, good. I’m so glad that you decided to join us. Now, I’ve read a little bit about you and I’ve heard such great things about you from my colleagues at work. Why don’t you go ahead and tell everybody else a little bit about who you are and how you came to be in this industry?

Larry Lundy:
Oh, well that’s a long story. I don’t know if we have that much time, but born in Cleveland, raised right here in Dallas, went to high school here, college here in Texas. And I think, coming out of school, you could get three jobs in Texas: oil and gas, and banking, or real estate sales. So I was selling real estate. But one day, a friend of mine asked me, could I do a basketball camp? And I made more money doing that basketball camp for Dallas Maverick than I did in my real estate job.

So that’s when I realized there was a business of sports. So since then, I worked and started a firm that worked with Advantage Market Group, which is one of the largest minority-owned firms in the Southwest, and was recruited to be the first director of sports marketing at Disney down in Orlando, which has now called the bubble or ESPN wide world sports and came back here years later as a senior vice for the host communications. And after 9/11, when they didn’t think they needed my division any more after 9/11, we started Lundy Marketing Group. So, that’s where we are today.

Rachel Brittenham:
Well, that’s exciting. I did see that. I didn’t even know Disney had an interest in sports, other than their connection with ESPN and the other media outlets that they have. But this world of marketing, I always tell people, it’s like gum on the bottom of your shoe. You’re just always in it. You just never know how you’re going to get in it. You just look up and you’re still in it. Well, since you have such an extensive background in marketing, I’m sure you have plenty of stories that you could share on your experiences as being a person of color, especially a man of color, in this business. But what was the industry like back then when you started? I know there wasn’t a lot. But what was the view as far as people of color in advertising and marketing?

Larry Lundy:
Rachel, I don’t want say it’s like that long ago. But it really was… There was a little bit of a heyday back in the day. We almost had our little Marcus Graham project going on here. You’re probably familiar with the Marcus Graham project that’s taken off with Eddie Murphy being from that movie. But there was a lot of agencies with scale. And some of them have existed today, like UniWorld and Burrell. We had the CEBA Awards, which celebrated African-Americans in advertising. We had industry leaders like Kents Michael, who came out with the Target Market News that focused on African-American marketing, and even had individuals like Pepper Miller, I don’t know if you know if you… peppermiller.net who writes studies on what’s Black about it, or African-Americans. She just specialized in that. And over the course of year, a lot of things changed.

So I would say that today it would be the best of times, worst of times. Because today, you don’t have to have a 25 global office agency to be in business. You can come right out of school. If you’ve got a Mac or a PC, and you can do graphic arts, you can get some business out of here. So I would say that we were blessed to have a lot of business,, and a lot of minority businesses like Pro-line Corporation and a lot of the healthcare and professional, even the music entertainments that really used a lot of our agencies. But just like desegregation impacted our communities, the same thing happened in the ad industry I believe.

We have this total market concept. I don’t know if you remember that, where there were a lot of money being in the African-American Hispanic cultures growing those businesses, but shadow market agencies thought that total market is the way to go. We’ll use your insights and we’ll put everything in one pot. And that, I think, helped break down some of the agencies that were going. Because those monies was a money grab, and a lot of the major agencies and holding companies ended up with those dollars versus being segmented into various populations.

Rachel Brittenham:
And so what do you think prompted that? Because I was going to ask you what changes have you seen, but that’s refreshing to hear that it was more of a heyday back then for you when you started. And I do know. We’ve always existed, right? But I started in with the big agencies. So, it’s always just been one or two of me. So, to hear that, what do you think prompted the total market concept?

Larry Lundy:
I think two to three things. The first thing that happened was… And when I say “heyday”, I don’t mean things… It was Camelot and we were all just getting business. It was still a struggle.

Rachel Brittenham:
Yeah.

Larry Lundy:
And it was still competition and still fighting for every dollar. But the fact that you’d have major agencies, Muse Cordero Chen on the West coast, and Global Hue, and on American Airlines, and even a… We had Dark Greyhound and several other major agencies, even at our firm. So there were opportunities, but I think what happened was back in the day, the culture, where the top 40 might’ve been The Police or the Rolling Stones, a lot of the individuals in the business, just like madman, didn’t feel like… “Hey. Well, we don’t know that market, so we have to have other resources.” There was a culture shift where our culture was the number one, Jay Z, on music, entertainment.

Larry Lundy:
And so those kids growing up in that genre felt like they know multicultural, so they don’t need to have necessarily X amount of resources. And when they grew up listening to Jay Z, or Kanye, or whoever it might be… So I think that contributed to it, and then, the total market effect where major holding companies could see that culture played a huge part. And they wanted those dollars too.

Rachel Brittenham:
Right.

Larry Lundy:
I remember one fortune 500 company here in Dallas, I won’t mention names, told their general market agency, “Hey, we’d like to identify a minority agency to work with that side of the business. Can you identify that and come back to us?” Instead of finding and identifying a minority run agency, they decided to take some employees from their shops and create their own agency. It didn’t last a year. But it’s that type of thinking that’s greed, whereas just starting to do what’s right.

And so, I think things over the years, the total market culture, even though the Obama effect where, “Hey, everything’s great, we have a president.” Whereas then, the same things that happen off the course, if you will, in terms of systematic racism and the things that we’ve seen over the course, and even leading up to George Floyd, have been the same things happening in an agency. And one thing I would say is, the famous philosopher Jesse Jackson said, “When things are on the field, you score a basket, two points, score a touchdown, six points, seven, it’s very clear. But off the field, it’s very subjective.”

In the ad agency business, you know this. “It’s not the right brand fit. I think it’s just a little off message.” It’s very subjective. So, those are kinds of things that we have to be a little bit more diligent in terms of being results-oriented when we’re trying to be successful.

Rachel Brittenham:
So, looking at where everything is today, do you think that we are having more of an impact globally on the advertising business, like the importance of having Black people? I don’t want to… We keep saying people of color, but we’re talking about Black people. Let’s be honest. Do you think that we are having more of an impact globally on the advertising and marketing world?

Larry Lundy:
Well, Rachel, it is without question that we’re having an impact when you see kids in Germany and Asia walking around, and they’re in their LeBron, their Nike. We lead in terms of culture, and impact, and influence, and aspiration. And after even George Floyd, you saw the different outpouring of support around the globe. So, when it comes to music, dance, culture, we’re such a huge impact on that factor. We’re definitely impacting the advertising. We’re seen in that sight. But are we behind the scenes creating the advertising? Are we creating the brand messages?

Every time you see a misstep in advertising, we get called. But I think you also can see the impact we have when you hire us and we’re at the table. A young lady, Angela Brown, that was at GSD&M, and Duff Stewart, who was the CEO at the time, when they had Popeye’s, “Y’all good?”? Just one little tweak cured a whole franchise and brand, if you will, in terms of the Popeye’s chicken sandwich and those kinds of things. So being at the table and being included makes your agency and your client’s business better and doesn’t dilute it.

Rachel Brittenham:
So, in knowing the challenges that we still face, especially with… We know that we are being profited off of, as far as our culture, our being, our presence alone, when it comes to being a part of campaigns, but we still don’t have enough people on the other side of the table. We don’t have enough people pulling the leverage to say, “Hey, these are decisions that need to be made.” Knowing the obstacles that you’ve, faced and what other people of color face when you first got into business, do you feel like we’re facing those same challenges right now being in advertising? And if so, what have you done personally to overcome them?

Larry Lundy:
Well, I think we are still facing the same challenges, but the difference now… And I don’t want to keep harping on this summer and George Floyd, but it seems like we have some allies now, and that the world has taken notice like, “Hey, we have to do better.” We’re not looking for a handout or a hand. We’re just looking to open the door a little bit or we’ll walk in, and that kind of situation. So things we’ve done…I think I alluded to the Marcus Grant project. We have a group called Black Sports Professionals. I think all the internships and opportunities, we’re trying to reach back now and include our folks who didn’t even know these were happening. We didn’t know these were careers growing up. I didn’t. I certainly didn’t know this was a career…

Rachel Brittenham:
Right, right.

Larry Lundy:
… growing up. So I think exposing, and career days, the opportunities to our youth, and then our mantra, at least with our Black sports professionals, empower… Connect, empower, and advance.

So with those three things, how do we do that within our industry and create opportunities? And I think things like minority supplier development, where companies are mandating that X amount of percent of the business… so this is almost a partnership between corporate America, small business, and even our agency friends to have a vested interest in.

And then also, our associations, American Marketing Association, the 4A’s, have to be diligent and focused like, “Hey, this is a challenge. We go through this every year, ad week in New York. It’s the same challenge that goes up. But be diligent and be intentional about it. And then, where there are plans in place, what gets measured gets done.

Rachel Brittenham:
Right? Do you foresee any… Well, what have you seen today… Well, who… What… Get the question out, Rachel. The question is really what role do you think advertising plays in navigating the changes of racism in this country? But what I wanted to really ask is, as of right now, post-George Floyd, and again, seeing the progression of Black people in this industry, what’s something significant that you can talk about that you think is really pushing us toward, pushing us toward change within advertising?

Larry Lundy:
Leadership. I think it’s leaders, leaders from corporate America, leaders in our business, and then our own community. It takes a Procter and Gamble to show positive images of Black male, where they were intentional about it. There are so many images where a Black male is not in the household, not even in the commercial, where they have a family going out to dinner or what have you. So showing Black males being around their kids, sharing those images, sharing as being role models, those are intentional opps. I mean, some of those have over-corrected where, before… You see normally now, multi racial families.

Rachel Brittenham:
Right. Right.

Larry Lundy:
Every commercial is trying to show that. So if you have the power to show images where the media may not show the positive, and if all you see is what’s on the nightly news and all those are negative images, those images portray into our children, into the general market. So when they’re coming to school, they have these misperceptions. Maybe in law enforcement, so when they’re dealing with the community, those images have started. So advertising plays a tremendous role in shaping the views and the messaging that goes into our bandwidth every day.

I mean, if you’re looking at your iPhone… How many messages do you get a day, on your iPhone, your cell phone, every day? So, you’re bombarded with these messages. So the more positive that we take ownership of our… not only our culture, but our brand and our messages, it’s incumbent on all of us.

Rachel Brittenham:
Do you think it’s important that advertisers really make a stand and step up, and do just that, and make sure that they have people of color in leadership positions so that we can try to do our part to move the needle with changing how race is viewed in this country?

Larry Lundy:
Yeah, by all means. I think, if the world is… It’s not monolithic, so you want the best and brightest at the table, and you want those that are able to speak to all parts of communities. And the more diverse you are, the more equity you have in those decisions, the better you’re going to be as a company because you’re going to be able to reach more and engage more of your community. If you’re kind of more or less narrow in your focus and in your leader, and everybody looks alike, your thought process is going to be pretty narrow. And so, you won’t get the best results.

So, I think it’s incumbent on, like you said, corporate America, the agency world, where it’s once again subjective, and then those of us who are in the business to start preparing the next generation right now. Because right now, you don’t have to be 40/50 years old to get in business. There are kids right now, on Shark Tank and HC. And they’re creating. Look at our music videos. These kids are so talented. I mean, look at Tik Tok.

Rachel Brittenham:
Yes.

Larry Lundy:
Instagram. These folks are not Kellogg’s school graduates. They’re coming out as creative as they come. And so… And they’re getting paid for it too, on YouTube and these social media sources. So I think looking at non-traditional sources and looking at some of the best and brightest talent, wherever that might come from and using them, I think it makes all the sense in the world.

Rachel Brittenham:
Yeah. I’ve heard over the years, and even now, that our general market agencies find it challenging to find people of color. And as we’ve stated earlier in an interview, and I believe that whole wholeheartedly, it is an exposure thing. We have to know that it exists. What advice or direction would you tell them to let them know that we’re here, you can find somebody in a leadership position? What do you think the challenge is in them not really making the path to do it?

Larry Lundy:
Well, I think, number one, they have to be intentional about it. And I think, number two, I think some have done this, especially in corp America, where they tie incentives and bonuses and pay structure to diversity equity decisions. So if you have that behavior being incented, then it will be rewarded. And then, three, I think hiring professionals like yourself/myself to be at the table to help them with this process. If you’re looking for folks and all… everybody at the country club doesn’t look… anything but like your audience, then you might want to engage some professionals to help you find.

And we’re very incented to find that. And then, going to the multicultural and the events where we participate, Add Color, Color Comp. There are so many organizations. I mentioned Marcus Graham again, and their project, where they’re trying to train up. I mean, it even goes back to Byron Lewis where he used to train African American creatives back in the day, and send them over to general market shops so they wouldn’t have that excuse. It takes that type of leadership to make a difference.

Rachel Brittenham:
Yeah. Speaking of advice or direction for those that are coming into the industry that would like to work for agencies, and even come and work for Lundy Marketing Group, what advice would you give young people of color that are coming into this industry?

Larry Lundy:
I would say, “Be great where you are right now and master the basics, whether it be the English, how to write and communicate, is number one.” And then, number two, I would say, “Avail yourself to all the new technology that’s out there. The ad industry, the marketing industry, is changing with ad tech, analytics, the consumer. So you almost have to be decent at math to be in the marketing world, in some roles, because it’s all about the insights and the numbers.”

Rachel Brittenham:
That is king.

Larry Lundy:
Be open to learning. I mean, you do not have to wait. You can now reach out to… I know LinkedIn may have gone down today, but you could reach out to anybody on LinkedIn, through social media. Do you know how hard it was to reach mentors back in the day when you had no social media, you had no cell phone? It was art. It was a hustle. Now, you at least have the tools to reach out and find those who’ve done it. So if you want to be where somebody is currently in that role, just reach out to those who are currently doing it. And then schools now are actually providing these opportunities and internships. So, I would say those three things would at least lead you on the path to success.

Rachel Brittenham:
All right. For you, Mr. Lundy, what has been your biggest success since you’ve been in the industry?

Larry Lundy:
The biggest success since I’ve been in the industry? There’s been a lot of them, but it’s really the next one. Because when you’re in the business, it’s really what’s going to happen tomorrow.

Rachel Brittenham:
All right.

Larry Lundy:
If you did it yesterday, that’s over. It’s really what’s happening next, especially if you have to create. The first and 15th, there’s new business every day, we’ve been blessed to do things, work on the Bayou class. You can sell a million a year for the network time in that, and work with a lot of great companies, American family insurance, and work with athletes like Amos Smith and all that. But as soon as you do that one… or AJ Andrews, the first woman to win a gold glove. Whenever those marketing campaigns are over, as soon as they’re over, you have to be thinking about the next one, and the next one, because the world does not stop here, waiting for you.

Rachel Brittenham:
All right. And the last question, what would you like to see for our industry, in terms of people of color, within the next three to five years?

Larry Lundy:
Well, I wouldn’t want to see anything from us on people of color. What I would like to see is our general market brothers and sisters that are in the industry recognize that, hey, in order for us to win this together, they have to be a part of the solution versus part of the problem. So if they’re silent or… They’re complicit in the problems that are out there. So I would like to see us continuing to do our part. Be excellent. You cannot be mediocre and be in the business. You have to be excellent. Be great at what you are. But then, the folks that we’re doing business with just respect the fact that, hey, it may be better if we are more inclusive and we have more of a diverse staff, diverse talent, and diverse opportunities, and to look at it as not so much as great, as more as increasing the pot versus being smaller because other people are coming into the room.

Rachel Brittenham:
Right. Well, thank you so much for joining us today. That’s all the questions I have. I feel like I could talk to you forever. This has been the greatest experience for us. This is… Like we said in the earlier interviews, this is a follow-up to the blog that we posted last year for Black History Month. And we wanted to definitely share our other peers within the industry. And you have been so gracious and so kind, and we look forward to doing more with you in the future.

Rachel Brittenham:
Ladies and gentlemen, this has been Reflections of Today’s Black Marketing Professionals. And our guest today was Mr. Larry Lundy. And you can check out this interview and the others on our blog. Thank you again. Let’s give another virtual hand clap.

Larry Lundy:
And thank you to Loomis. Loomis didn’t have to do this, so I appreciate them. They’re part of the solution.

Rachel Brittenham:
Yes. Yes. We are making a change. We’re excited about it. So, check out these interviews and more, and we will see you next time. Remember, Black History is not just 28 days of the year, it’s 365.

Larry Lundy:
That’s right.

RACHEL BRITTENHAM is senior media buyer for LOOMIS, the country’s leading challenger brand advertising agency and a top Dallas advertising agency for digital, social, mobile and user experience. For more about challenger branding, advertising and marketing, leadership, culture and other inspirations that will drive your success, visit our blog BARK! The Voice of the Underdog and catch up on all of our posts.

For more about LOOMIS, or to discuss how we can help your company succeed, CLICK HERE

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