Experiential agency Giant Spoon, which laid off 20% of its staff earlier this year as a result of Covid-19’s impact on its business, is heading into 2021 with a new leadership hire.
As vice president of strategy, Kenny Mac has been tasked with building a practice within the agency intended to help clients better reach and connect with multicultural audiences.
Mac comes to Giant Spoon with an eclectic background. He served as executive producer for the movie Antebellum, a thriller starring Janelle Monáe that debuted this year.
Earlier in his career, he held various roles at LVMH, working with brands including Belvedere. He also previously worked at Project, a men’s fashion trade show.
After graduating from college, Mac founded an ad agency, which ended up being acquired by a company named Alloy, that Giant Spoon’s co-founder Marc Simons interned at.
According to Mac, the two have stayed in touch since then, and began working together this year on a project for HP. During this time, he said the concept for what Giant Spoon is calling “diverse audience marketing” began to develop.
Details regarding what, exactly, the practice will offer clients remain fuzzy considering it’s still new. But Mac said it will primarily focus on integrating multicultural marketing efforts into a brand’s overall strategy instead of putting them in silos or having a separate agency handle them.
Mac said brands that “set aside” a marketing budget for African American audiences, for instance, too often treat such opportunities as “charitable ways to connect to the community.” As a result, they’re missing out on business opportunities.
In essence, he said the offering he’s building at Giant Spoon will involve “tapping into underrepresented communities and making sure that those communities are in fact represented in [a client’s] overarching marketing.”
Additionally, he said the offering will help clients avoid the type of backlash Pepsi received in 2017 after it debuted an ad starring Kendall Jenner. In the ad, Jenner attempts to make peace with a police officer during a protest by handing him a can of Pepsi. Many people criticized the campaign for co-opting the Black Lives Matter movement.
“It was very insensitive, and it was taken the wrong way, even though the intention was good. Everybody asked one question: ‘Who was in the room when they made that decision?’” he said. “We’ll be those people in the room with you.”
Mac said the offering is largely strategy-driven, as it will “educate clients, first and foremost, on the audiences that they want to tap into.” He said this will involve conducting research that involves better understanding a particular audience, looking into factors such as where they spend their time or how they consume media. Mac said his team will also “tap into other divisions of the agency” to help clients execute or build upon the work they’re doing.
According to Giant Spoon, the new division has already started working with clients such as HP, although it did not share any others. One way it’s done so is via “virtual workshops.” Mac said these workshops involve putting together a panel of thought leaders who are representative of a specific diverse audience, giving marketers the chance to learn from them and ask questions.
Alongside Mac, a team of eight strategists is running the agency’s latest offering. Jon Haber, Giant Spoon’s co-founder, said there are plans to expand the practice in the coming year by hiring more staff.