Hidden Figures: A look at Black British marketing and design with Dr Glen Yearwood
Mainstream voices have dominated marketing and advertising spaces, and there is a need for audiences, customers and consumers to be spoken to and reached in an authentic and credible way.
In partnership with the Black Cultural Archives (BCA) and Niche on Demand (NoD), this video series explores the pioneers in Black British marketing, their influence and contributions.
This is one of three interviews in this series. Each interview draws on key themes such as lessons learnt from being one of the first black-owned strategic marketing consultancies in the UK, the influence of black creatives and marketers on Brand Activism, and building on the next generation of black marketers/researchers.
Who is Dr. Glen Yearwood?
Glen Yearwood was born on the eastern Caribbean island of Saint Vincent in 1963. Glen joined his mother in Luton, Bedfordshire in February 1971.
Schooled at Beech Hill high in Bury Park and further educated at Manchester Metropolitan University in Political Science and Economics, Glen’s first assignment after University was to become a full time member of commercial staff at the Times of London working on both Sunday Times and The Times as commercial sales. Glen was recorded as the first black man to occupy full time staff at the Times of London since its inception of 1785.
Raising significant amounts of venture capital in the City of London during the technology boom of the mid ‘90’s with his business partner, Everton Wright, he raised £3 million in 1999 with a technology concept based on Motown music factory. The venture was titled: Darker Than Blue dot com, named after a Curtis Mayfield song. The online property was able to sign and promote Black music and artists to a global audience and was responsible for the nascent promotion of many acts such as Jill Scott, Craig David, Estelle and more.
Glen developed one of the UK’s first strategic marketing consultancy titled Soul Marketing. The role was to bring to the advertising world, the discipline and insights of Black and Minority Ethnic statistics, impacts and narratives which were unique to this consumer group. He was successful in winning business such as ONS, Tesco’s and COI; and used the marketing vehicle to pitch and successfully win the business in the US of Black Entertainment Television Networks (BET) with a brief to launch the channel in the UK and Europe. This was successfully done and Soul Marketing was the first UK black owned marketing consultancy to be hand picked by BET owners (Viacom) in the US.
Glen took a delegation of British Black owned business leaders to University of North Carolina (Wilmington) – a HBCU. The delegation included Yana Johnson and Tim Campbell, winner of televised the Apprentice. His role was to connect Black entrepreneurial leadership between the UK and the US based on our lived and shared experiences. He held a number of seminars and presentations to share best practice.
In 2012 Glen launched a wellbeing information seminar for melanin rich people called Beauty Within Me. The event held at SOAS over the bank holiday weekend in August provided a marketplace for black owned entrepreneurs and practitioners to meet clients and patients who required information about products and practises’ that were chemical free and leaned on the oratory traditions of Africa healing. The event and over subscription of patrons is set for a return in 2021.
In 2015, Glen left the UK to visit Australia and live with and “innerstand” indigenous peoples and social structures around the world. His time in Australia added to his life and spiritual experiences. He eventually settled and lived with Aboriginal community in the Australian desert: the Pintupi Lurijta and the Arrernte people of Alice Springs. He was accepted into their close knit social structure and after time awarded the Aboriginal skin name of Jungari which means “uncle or storyteller”. Glen speaks Aboriginal language of Arrernte and before leaving in March 2020 because of COVID and his worsening illness, he hosted and presented a radio show called the 12 Apostles of Black Music which was syndicated nationally across Australia by community radio network. Glen continues to live his truth as a Story Teller.