At Adolescent Content, connection is the cornerstone. Utilizing storytelling to create value in BIPOC communities and create meaningful connections, Hope Farley, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Producer at Adolescent Content, fills us in on how they help brands authentically connect with their audiences.
Please talk about your role and your approach to improving diversity and inclusion internally. Do you think that industry as a whole has genuinely created pathways for equal opportunities, starting with graduate hires through to senior roles?
I am Co-Founder and Chief Executive Producer at Adolescent Content and our entire business was founded on the idea of equity, inclusion and creating pathways for diverse creators to have a career in media arts. I and director Ramaa Mosley founded the company in 2013 and over the past 10 years we have seen a real shift in the face of filmmakers. I would like to think we’ve helped bring more young people from underrepresented communities into leading roles through our program of mentorship.
Since 2020, following the BLM movement, we’ve seen a large number of firms adding DE&I programs. It will take time to see if there is TRUE change happening but it’s a good start. The faces at the table look more balanced than they did 10 years ago.
How are you advising your clients to connect their brands with BIPOC communities?
It’s all about good storytelling that entertains. We advise brands to listen first (everything we do begins with asking questions of the target audience) and then create value through good content. It’s key for brands to understand culture and to tell meaningful stories that the BIPOC community cares about. Many times, brands and agencies focus heavily on hard measures and means of advertising - the sell. At Adolescent we lean into storytelling and emotional connection; what connects us, what makes people the same, universal themes. Connection is at the heart of what we do. We like to imagine this like a bridge. What’s in between is what we focus on. Then, how you work your way closer to one another.
We advise our clients to connect to BIPOC communities by making sure that they have value to offer them. No one wants to be sold to. No one cares about corporations. They care about entertainment. Our way in is storytelling and entertainment. We help and advise brands on how to authentically connect with each audience they are trying to reach.
What are some steps companies can take to avoid appearing as though they are pandering rather than authentically improving their inclusivity?
One big flag for folks in the real world is when brands only have diversity in their commercials but not on their boards or in their ranks. In addition to communicating to a diverse audience, they need to listen to diverse leaders and that’s an inside job. Our focus at Adolescent is on GenZ; they are the fastest growing group with 80% of buying power so clients are beginning to lean heavily towards advertising to them. GenZ is also the most discerning group and they have the least tolerance for bs, or pandering as you said. This is the group that is looking at your website and seeing who works for you; they are looking at what you are doing in underserved communities, looking at what your stance is on the issues of the day and if the authenticity is missing, they are not supporting your brand. I’m not a fan of cancel culture but it does hold a client’s feet to the fire.
What efforts has your agency offered to support the BIPOC community in the ad industry?
Adolescent has a growing global collective of over 5000 diverse GenZ creators, thinkers and consumers who we touch in some way or another every day. 70% identify as BIPOC. Whether its offering grants to make content, mentorship to grow as artists and world citizens, or paid work opportunities, we are constantly looking for ways to pour into that community. We also hire diverse, young people to work on our staff with the goal of growing them into leadership roles. Our app, in development, is uniquely positioned to increase the number of working BIPOC creators in the ad industry. It’s exciting times and we can’t wait to see how the face of the industry evolves over the next 5 years.