Behind The Click: Danii Oliver of DAMN Digital Studio

- By Bossip Staff

LDC: The ad agency is notorious for possessing little diversity today. How do you think this will affect the industry in years to come given that we out index in all things digital?

DO: Not much has changed since the “Madison Avenue Ad Men” days of the 1950’s. I don’t believe that the little diversity in the ad agencies will affect the industry. There was a time when minorities couldn’t buy things and ads targeted the majority. Then there came a time when minorities could afford to purchase necessities, now luxuries.

Advertising is not about the nationality of the creative person that is creating the ads. It’s more about showing people why they can’t live without whatever is being advertised. If representation had anything to do with it, African-Americans alone would not be expected to gross $1 Trillion in purchases by 2012. Clearly all is well. People of all ethnicities are still purchasing in large numbers.

 LDC: What advice might you have for women reading this profile who are trying to break into the digital ad world and can’t seem to get a foothold?

DO: The advice my mentor and high school teacher, Dee Winfield, gave me was “Don’t take NO, from someone who can’t tell you YES.” This means keep going until you reach the decision maker. The tenacity that those words have given me since I was 16 years-old has gained me all the accomplishments I have earned so far in life.

LDC: How do you think we can create a better balance between being consumers and creators?

DO: I don’t know where there is a lack of balance. We live in the natural flow of society where the majority rules. If you want to change that then people will have to be willing to raise up and initiate change. When last did a minority group march for their desires?

LDC: What was the process like to decide to become an entrepreneur?

DO: For me, there wasn’t a process to decide to become an entrepreneur. I don’t ever recall sitting down and thinking I wanted to become an entrepreneur, I just was. I always made plans to achieve certain goals and as I did this, my plans got bigger. My goals forced me to adorn the title. What I remember is being told I can be anything I want to be. Working on someone else’s life goals, as their employee wasn’t going to allow me to be anything I wanted to be.

LDC: How might we encourage more Black people to become entrepreneurs in the digital space (and what do you think of the Bloomberg TV show not seemingly including any start-ups in NYC by people of color!?)

DO: You can’t encourage people who don’t have a passion for something to become an entrepreneur.

Certain people in this country have traditionally been taught to take safe jobs, government, city or nursing. This easy work mentality comes from the idea of guarantees pay and pension. Although the pay is low, from what I have witnessed, many are happy to get anything they can.

Furthermore, if you want people to be entrepreneurs in a certain industry, there needs to be investments and funding available in that area for them. Whites, Asians, Indians, etc. invest in technology and digital. Thus we find the same mix in those emerging fields. But African-Americans aren’t traditionally targeted for work in these fields. You can’t expect to encourage certain groups to participate in the industry, when that group isn’t targeted well for opportunities.

From what we see in the media, African-Americans invest in clothing lines, liquor companies and record labels. If not those industries, then in companies that already exist. If this is what is presented, then people will think that’s all there is. This group, as it is presented to the public, has not been big risk takers since the 1960’s and 1970’s.

As for that TV show, I don’t watch television. All anyone who takes offense to a particular show is doing is supporting the show. The show only needs one thing, that’s viewers, not anyone’s approval.

Please don’t miss the next profile.  In the meantime, keep up with digital events and trends at  Follow me on Twitter @mediaempress


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