Blackweek, the economic forum and marketing conference meant to show the impact of Black and Brown communities, has signed its first speakers and outlined some of the content planned for its inaugural event.


The event’s first speakers are also part of Blackweek’s steering committee advising and guiding the event, which is scheduled for Oct. 15-18 in New York.



Steering committee and speakers

The committee includes Alia Kemet, chief marketing officer of Shipt; Trevor Edwards, a former Nike president who is now on the board of VF Corp; Cindy Gallop, founder of Make Love Not Porn; Amber Guild, CEO of McCann New York; Ross Martin, president of Known; Madeline Nelson, U.S. head of independent label relations for Amazon Music; Gary Vaynerchuck, CEO of VaynerMedia; Aaron Walton, CEO of Walton Isaacson; and Katie Williams, U.S. CMO of Haleon.


“Gender and ethnic diversity was important,” said Joe Anthony, founder and CEO of Hero Media and Hero Collective, Blackweek co-founder, regarding the makeup of the steering committee. “Having certain individuals from the white community was important as well, to show that this is a conference for everyone,” he said.


Members of the steering committee will speak or moderate panels during the event and are encouraged to help bring on sponsors.


“We definitely want people who have a history of being outspoken and brave,” said Anthony. “We want people who have found a way to also work within the confines of bigger bureaucratic and politically driven companies and environments and are still finding a way to get things done.”


Gallop will lead a discussion on Black women being the future of advertising, while Vaynerchuk will lead a session called “The Undeniable Influence of Black Creators,” where he will speak with prominent Black influencers, according to Walter T. Geer III, VML’s chief creative officer of innovation in North America and a co-founder of Blackweek.


Guild will lead a discussion on how to get more women into c-suite positions; Kemet will moderate a panel on building a brand through culture and Edwards will lead a talk about his experience at Nike and the power of the Black athlete. Williams will direct a discussion addressing underserved patient populations and the lack of cultural fluency that can create distrust in the healthcare space and Martin’s panel will discuss the creation of the “Jeen-Yuhs” documentary about Kanye West (now Ye) alongside the film’s directors Coodie Simmons and Chike Ozah.



Five stages, job searches

Organizers say Blackweek has sold about 25% of its tickets—early bird pricing is $1,499 and $1,999 for its two packages—and has about half of the panel topics set.



There will be five separate stages at the event, according to Anthony. The main stage will feature big personalities and discussions on macro trends, he said. The health equity stage will focus on health-related issues affecting Black and Brown communities. The culture and creativity stage will hit on topics such as marking the difference between cultural appropriation and cultural authenticity in creative work and the creator economy.


The advertising and media stage will cover topics such as “combating data bias in advertising, the rise of programmatic ad spend, and how that disproportionately affects Black and Brown publishers,” Anthony said.


The innovation stage will focus on the future of tech trends such as AI and Web3, along with VC funding for Black-owned businesses, and startups will speak about what they do or pitch their work. “We’re going to flood that room with Black-owned banks and VCs and other agency executives,” Geer said.


The forum will also include a speed-dating style activation where people can search for job opportunities. The steering committee will also help the founders of Blackweek define a potentially “nine-figure” monetary goal they would like to bring to the Black and Brown community at the end of the event by way of hires, funding and more, Geer said.



Working with sponsors

Sponsored panels will take up about 30% of the slots during the event, Anthony said. One sponsored panel will feature Jon Cook, VML’s global CEO. WPP, VML’s parent company, is a sponsor of the event.


“We want to make sure that everyone who touches the stage are individuals who are doing the work and genuinely do care because what we don’t want is someone to pay to get on the stage who’s not necessarily doing the work, but showing up to basically check a box,” said Geer.


Blackweek’s founders and sponsors will curate the sponsored sessions together, Anthony said.


“We are saying this is what we want you to talk about, and you will sponsor that,” he said. “It’s not like this is 30 minutes for you to promote your DE&I plan.”


Read more from Ad Age HERE.