Campaign US 40 over 40:
By Alan Brown, Co-Founder and Chairman
When I first heard that I’d been selected as one of this year’s 40 Over 40 honorees by Campaign US, I was humbled and surprised.
While I’m an agency founder and owner, and most recently a CEO, I’ve spent most of my time as an account guy – the relationship builder, convener of the talent, the one who greases the skids to get stuff done. Outside of the office, I’ve done my best to be a champion of the under-served, under-heard, while making our DE&I efforts a priority at the company.
Because of my past, I know that I was recognized for this award because I’ve had the partnership of amazing people at DNA. The ones who are willing to step up and go above and beyond what is expected to do their best work for my agency and for the people we impact. That inspires me every day to fight the good fight. Here are a few examples.
In 2019, at the height of #MeToo, we decided we should shine a light on the problem in our industry. A colleague we’d worked with had a compelling story of discrimination and misogyny at several ad agencies. While many women knew about her story, we wanted men in our industry to hear this story and to face their own truths and never let this happen again. Our ambitious team worked tirelessly to produce her one-woman show Disclosure. We invested our time and money in the production, booked the theater, lined up promotional partners and sold tickets to an amazing, standing ovation performance with a lot of ad men in the room.
Another incredible opportunity was creating Project: SugarFree. I was fortunate enough to collaborate with Rob Scherzer, DNA’s Innovation and Digital Experience Director and others to create an AI platform on Twitter to intercept online predators looking to engage in sugar dating with underaged youth. It was an amazing learning experience for all of us, and one intercepted tens of thousands of online solicitations, and also earned DNA our first EFFIE Award and our first World Changing Idea recognition from Fast Company.
Most recently, I collaborated with another team at the agency on an Instagram social campaign called Come Out to Work that encouraged people to share their “coming out at work” stories. Our goal was to make people feel comfortable to be who they are at work, with the ultimate dream of increasing the percentage of self-identified LGBTQ+ workers who are out at work to over 50%. It was heartening to see so many people volunteer their time and talent to his project, which reached hundreds of thousands of people.
I’ve had the good fortune to work on some amazing projects with awesomely talented people, making an impact beyond just the work we do for our clients. And that’s an honor I get to receive every day.