Editor’s Note: “The Reel Black List” is our annual spotlight of brothers and sisters in the worlds of advertising, film, TV, music, radio and media who are making a difference through their contributions and creativity on a daily basis. For the next 29 days, you will be able to celebrate wonderful human beings, like Kenny Mac with us.
Meet Kenny Mac. He is VP, Strategy Director at Giant Spoon, a full-service creative organization obsessed with culture and driven by insatiable curiosity. He joined the agency in May 2020 to lead its “Diverse Audience Marketing” venture– an offering created to guide marketers in understanding multicultural consumers and make the right decisions for the right audiences.
In addition to client-facing work, Kenny also serves as a mentor to young Black talent within the agency with the goal of promoting equality across all races and genders.
A creative entrepreneur, Kenny’s most recent project has been executive producing Lionsgate’s thriller Antebellum. His innate ability to connect like-minded individuals, backed by his extensive career in lifestyle and experiential marketing has helped him build a deep network of creatives and influencers.
A sought after consultant, Kenny has taken brand DNA and infused it into the consumer journey to deliver memorable experiences that push ROI– for the likes of Warner Bros. Films, Rihanna’s FENTY Corp, Adidas, Puma, Asics, Timberland, and Brand Jordan.
His career began in New York City, first at publications VIBE Magazine and Rolling Stone Magazine, followed by becoming Head of Marketing for Sean “Diddy” Combs’ brand Sean John. He then headed to the West Coast for marketing roles at LVMH’s 10 Cane Rum and Belvedere Vodka.
Kenny is driven by his mantra “Anyone can be a boss but it takes a special person to be a leader”.
Let’s meet Kenny:
What’s your origin story?
I’m the product of a single mother in a Black Caribbean family. I was born in DC, however grew up between DC, Antigua, Trinidad and Barbados. Growing up in each of those environments helped frame my multicultural POV.
How did you get into advertising and marketing?
My friends and I threw parties in high school then college. Eventually brands started reaching out to us to put up banners and fliers at our parties. That was my first insight into the marketing and advertising world. Our party promotions company transformed into a lifestyle marketing agency which then got acquired by a larger full-service agency.
Who were your mentors?
I was blessed with a diverse group of mentors. The list includes Beverly Smith who I worked with at VIBE magazine, Sean Combs who I looked up to while I was in college then worked for later on, Steven Deluca who hired me at Rolling Stone, my uncle Chris who has always set the example of being a father, husband, and, strong professional figure, and my two best friends, brothers, former roommates, and business partners Bobby Jones and Tony Fair.
While there will be others, what do you consider your biggest achievement to date?
After years of working in brand strategy, creative direction, and marketing I took all of my learnings and skills to make a career shift into producing TV and film.
In 2020, Antebellum starring Janelle Monae, my first film as a producer, premiered. Next to my children, this is my biggest achievement to date.
How about your biggest disappointment?
In 2011, I launched a platform to help advise, mentor, and inspire young adults on their career path. The platform is called Behind The Hustle. The platform was instrumental with helping young people hear from successful individuals what it meant to bustle and build their careers.
We created partnerships with Nike, Verizon, Pepsi, Samsung and Complex. We made an impact, however we never focused on a sustainable business model and eventually went dark. Though this was a disappointment, I will one day relaunch the brand to continue its needed work.
How has having the superpower of your Blackness helped you?
My Blackness connects me to my people and my community. It pushes me to strive for excellence to climb to the top whilst still understanding what it’s like to be the underdog. It gives me the confidence to believe in myself to lead culture and not follow trends.
And all of these things together give me the understanding of culture and nuance to make quick on point decisions for myself and my clients.
If Black culture is your superpower, what is your kryptonite?
How did last year’s BLM movements affect you personally?
As a father who marched as a teenager, then as a young adult, seeing the BLM movement this summer let me know that youth has the protest part of activism covered. My role now is behind the scenes, working with my influence and network to push for the changes they protest for. I immediately started calling my White friends who owned businesses to hold them accountable for diversity within the companies.
It’s the reason I partnered with Giant Spoon to launch Diverse Audience Marketing. The work we do helps our clients be thoughtful, authentic, and thorough when connecting with underrepresented audiences including Black, LatinX, LGBTQ+, and women.
The movement also reconfirmed that working with Bush Renz to get their story of Antebellum out to the masses was very important and timely.
What can the industry do better to promote true inclusion
Stop thinking of it as a charity or a box-checking exercise. It’s a business model and if companies don’t take it seriously, they’ll be left in the dust.
If you’re Batman, who’s Robin?
Michael Tonge! He is the young brother I was blessed to recruit to help me launch Giant Spoon’s Diverse Audience Marketing division. Also I’d have to add Kaya Day who has been my right hand for the better part of four years across four companies, who is also now at Giant Spoon. She is also a talented writer and one day soon, I’ll be producing one of her scripts.
What drives you to create?
My constant strive to learn, build, and push culture thus remaining young and relevant. Creativity is the fountain of youth.