She has long been an advocate of change in the industry. Your perspective and point of view is strong. Combine that with an impressive 15 years of work in various agencies and brands, and it’s clear that Detroit-based Rahaman is a unique, authentic, and powerful voice.
To this end, Huge Midwest – with offices in Chicago and Detroit – selected Rahaman as the vp of the brand strategy. The move is part of a recent, larger hiring and promotion frenzy that sees Brian Donovan serving in the role of Group VP Strategy in the same offices as Rahaman and several other additions to Huge in Brooklyn.
Blake Whirt joined Google as Managing Director, Client Services, while Holden Bale was named Group Vice President of Technology, and Irina Lee was named Creative Director for Group.
In a statement, Raj Singhal, Huge’s global chief operating officer, said, “Things people love is what we stand for now more than ever, and we look forward to the continued success of our great team and to our work on to raise a new level today. “
Adweek caught up with Rahaman to find out why she was returning to the agency world from the standpoint of diversity, equality, and inclusion in the industry and more.
Adweek: Why did you come back?
Deadra Rahaman: I got hired last year to work on a research project (for an agency) and found that I had missed it. I wasn’t really looking for a job, but Ranae (Heuer, President of Huge Midwest) and I stayed in touch.
You probably had several options with your experience and profile. Why did you choose Huge?
Huge connection with me before anything related to social justice happened – Ranae and I were in touch long before that. I didn’t feel like they’d be in touch with the industry this summer about the open letter. It was comforting to know that I am not just going to be a token lender. And I didn’t want to get into a situation where I was the only (colored) person again. I’m tired of being the only one in the room. Being a unicorn is cool, but the appeal is the different teams at Huge Midwest and around the world.
Some agencies agree to drive DEI forward. Others don’t. What can other agencies learn from Huge?
It’s reflected above. [Huge COO and CFO Raj Singhal] is a person of color. You don’t see that with other agencies. I don’t see any black women in the C-suite. We are more than just D&I leads. We can be CEOs, CMOs, and chief strategy officers. I look after young professionals and they don’t see themselves in the lead. There has to be someone at the top with intent and mindfulness, and not a CEO, sitting there waiting for a task force to tell them what to do. I give Ranae a lot of credit. 48% of the new hires are BIPOC. There is so much satisfaction from looking at a screen and seeing my team made up of Asian Americans, Latin Americans, and African Americans. That’s great. I usually don’t.
How do you envision this role – and marketing – evolving?
I see myself bringing human truth to the table. We have 16 year olds who will vote in 2024 who are multicultural. We tell brands what we want from them. I also think data is beautiful, but needs to be brought to life and relevant with context. I see this heading in an area where we write personal and cultural messages. Culture is not a spectator sport. Brands and agencies cannot sit on the sidelines.