Advertising Week NYC 2023


Key Learnings

Advertising Week NYC is always a blast. 2023 was no exception. In addition to seeing many long-time colleagues & meeting new people, THIS year thanks to Loyola University New Orleans, I had the privilege of journeying with 4 very promising advertising students. They learned a lot, and so did I.

Loyola University New Orleans Wolfpack at Advertising Week 2023 (L to R: Kamryn, Angel, Tillie, Lucas & Me)

Here are my key learnings from Advertising Week NYC 2023.

  1. To embrace all of who I am and be bolder in my career. Creative confidence is the key to becoming all that we have the capacity to be. International Speaker Stephanie Sword Williams shared her 4 steps to increasing creative confidence which include 1) Believe In Yourself, 2) Validate Yourself, 3) Know The Value Of Your Being In Your World (What are your best skills) and 4) Stop Doubting, Start Creating. I’m inspired and am here for it. She espouses us not being humble which I detail more in this Medium blog post. Check out her movement on Instagram @fbeinghumble.
Speaker Stephanie Sword-Williams at Advertising Week NYC 2023

2. AI is not to be feared, but embraced. Tech is intended to scale your idea, not make you scared. Sean Downey, President of Americas & Global Partners at Google shared “You are not competing with AI, you are competing with marketers and how they use it.” Mic drop. So, it is imperative for all of us, no matter our age or tech inclinations, to get in there NOW and learn more about AI (or else, we will be left behind).

Downey also further demystified AI in his explanation that there are 3 types of AI, 1) growth, 2) productivity and 3) generative. I was surprised and thrilled to realize that I’m actually already using “growth” now via Google Ads as it uses a predictive element (and you’re probably doing the same). He shared the Google AI Essentials Checklist for those in search of resources to get up to speed.

Google’s AI Showcase at Advertising Week NYC 2023

3. Own & create your narrative. I talk about this a lot. The need to create your own brand. So it’s obvious that I was all the way leaned in when Harlem Fashion Row Founder Brandice Daniel shared her business story of origin. Before she created HFR, there were few black designers getting visibility at retail, yet Black people were over-indexing in purchasing. Although not a fashion insider, Brandice leaned into her love of fashion, and industry need to create an organization which has brokered relationships with Nike, Anthropologie and so many others. Learn more about HFR and get the new HFR Fashion In Color coffee table book at Portion of proceeds funds Black designers & HBCU fashion programs. Go Brandice!

Harlem Fashion Row Founder, Brandice Daniel (2nd from left in gray) after Group Black Panel

4. Establish your own terms of engagement. Watch The Yard’s Founder Jonathan Rabb created this organization to serve as a community globally for HBCU students. The organization documents experiences, much around Greek life. Students are able to gain experience in creative fields like videography, storytelling and photography. As if the concept were not unique enough, what I really liked is that Jonathan is staunch that there is no preying on the students. Any brand that wants access, must also offer opportunity. Full stop (as the kids say). This led me to question, what are my terms of engagement? What are yours? Hmmmm.

WTY has amassed 1.87MM followers across all platforms. In doing so, brands and organizations wanting to engage and support Black college students have a means to doing so. Also, side note, LOVE that Watch The Yard got Super Delegate passes to their three students who also secured video & photo footage for official Advertising Week handle. Karah, Myles & Jordan are pictured below. Learn more abt WTY at

Watch The Yard Founder, Jonathan Rabb
HBCU Students with Watch The Yard, Karah Rainwater, Jordan Norswearthy & Myles Lee

5. Media has the power to shift perception. I learned in an Ad Council session that 46MM people 12 years old+ in the U.S. suffer from addiction. As affinity groups have tackled race, gender, gender expression, sexuality, disability, and body image/shape/size, addiction as a disease is still not being addressed or considered as such.

It’s potentially the last stigma people discriminate around. Media can help change this by normalizing mental health maladies such as addiction. As an affected person through my family, I can’t wait for the November Ad Council ad launch advocating for us to change our views of addiction and people who suffer from it, and finding ways to amplify this campaign and be a part of this movement. Learn more at

6. Trust precedes the purchase. Trust is a part of loyalty. You must earn trust. Ask yourself do you deliver and are your values aligned with your customers. Always think about what ALL your audiences need, merchants, customers and end-user as learned by Door Dash CMO Kofi Amoo-Gottfried.

7. When you’re great, you can never hide for long. Seeing Michelle Ebanks, President of Apollo Theatre, whom I worked with for years at ESSENCE Communications reminded me that greatness is rare, and highly sought after. Michelle is a gem, and a brilliant star, and was pulled from her post-ESSENCE sabbatical from Richard Parsons. Wishing you infinite success Michelle.

Bonus: The word phygital was used a lot, but I distinctly remember @Momentum agency coining this in 2008 (just want to give them their flowers) :). Regardless, post-COVID, all initiatives must be approached from a digital and physical perspective.

Brand Bonanza

Many media brands showcased the functionality of their platforms to attendees. See below activation photos from Netflix, TikTok, Shutterstock, Canva, Bitly, Roundel, Amazon Ads & The Female Quotient & Group Black Stages.

I can’t pick any favorites, but I will say that Group Black & The Female Quotient did an outstanding job curating content and delivering immersive experiences.

TikTok @AdvertisingWeek
Netflix & Roundel
Bitly leveraged the experience to raise $ for a cause. (They reached their goal!)
Canva’s Juice Bar Hydrated Us Daily (+ we got personalized labels made with Canva)
Google’s AI Interactive Display
The Female Quotient at Advertising Week
Group Black Activation Area
Group Black Photo Wall

Olivia F. Scott is Assistant Professor of Advertising at Loyola University, Adjunct Marketing Professor at NYU, Writer, and Founder of Omerge Alliances Marketing Consultancy. Learn more at



The O Blog | Marketing POV by Olivia F. Scott

Olivia is a C-Suite Marketing Exec & Founder. An NYU & Loyola Professor, she has led mktg at Carol's Daughter, VIBE, Live Nation, Ogilvy & more for 25+ years.