One of the biggest issues that many marginalized and minority communities face is the commodification of their struggles. Months that are dedicated to their causes — Black History Month, Women’s History Month, Pride Month — are no longer about the commemoration of the struggle and the desire to do better, but have instead become another excuse to have a sale, a limited edition fashion capsule, and an excuse to host a barbecue.
For Sheila Marmon, the founder and CEO of Mirror Digital, this commodification of pain is unsurprising — but, she says, there are always ways to turn the proverbial ship around.
“I think when it comes to engaging with marginalized communities, there’s a demand for authenticity in that engagement,” she told AfroTech. “And the only way to truly be authentic in your engagement is to have people in your boardrooms, in high positions, as decision-makers, that look like the people you’re trying to reach.”
Sheila Marmon would know a thing or two about remaining authentic. As an interactive media company, Mirror Digital — under the tutelage of Marmon — helps Fortune 500 brands tap into the fastest-growing U.S. consumer base: the multicultural market. With over 450 digital campaigns executed for clients including General Motors, Universal Pictures, Intel, and AT&T, Marmon can be credited with nearly single-handedly leading the charge for today’s modern ad campaigns.
But Marmon also goes a step further and says that it’s not just about creating ad campaigns that speak to previously underrepresented communities.
“The media shapes how we see one another and provides a platform for us to tell our own stories,” she said. “It’s important for us to use it to our advantage, especially if we don’t want to be depicted in a stereotypical way.”
With more than 30 million Black, Latinx, and Asian consumers seeing Mirror Digital’s campaigns each month, it’s safe to say that Sheila Marmon will continue to be at the forefront of the new digital revolution. And as the media landscape continues to evolve, and what was once considered “multicultural” and “minority” is accepted as the new norm, Marmon is confident that her role will evolve with the times, as well.
“In the past, my work was primarily focused on the areas of digital innovation OR multicultural markets. I decided to marry these two passions and focus on how innovation in media could help leading brands reach people of color on digital media platforms,” she said. “But as we become more mainstream — as we continue to set the template — as we are seen as part of the bigger picture, I fully expect that my work will become more integral, and integrated.”
Editorial note: Portions of this interview have been edited and condensed for clarity.