Culture Brands’ Eunique Jones Gibson wants to help brands uplift, empower stories for African Americans

When Eunique Jones Gibson founded Culture Brands, her Black-owned marketing agency in 2017, the 39-year-old business leader wanted to ignite conversation, introspection and social change in the industry.

As opposed to what Gibson sees as general marketing agencies trying to hop on trends often spurred by Black consumers, Gibson said she strives to recognize that speaking from a lived experience requires a focused skill set. Culture Brands currently has 30 employees, 57% female and 43% male. While most (67%) of its employees are Black, 13% are Asian, and 10% are white and Latino.

Eunique Jones Gibson’s resume at-a-glance

  • Started off in the online space working for Microsoft on the publisher side (2008)
  • Launched Culture Brands (2017)
  • Founded Happy Hues (2022)

In terms of brands, Gibson favors those that represent Black values and brands that want to do more than just be popular or trendy.

“What’s important to us is a real commitment to [the] community,” she said. “There are a lot of people who can say ‘We want something that’s culturally relevant because culturally relevant means that is cool and that is hip, it’s at the top of mind and it’s going to resonate,’ but that’s not enough for us.”

The Maryland-based agency works with clients like BET, Warner Bros. and Nickelodeon as well as Hyundai as its Black agency of record. Gibson declined to share which other brands that are also its Black agency of record as they are currently under non-disclosure agreements.

Culture Brands has reported growth — a 50% growth rate over the last few years (2020, 2021, and 2022), Gibson said without providing exact figures.

“It’s a very young company, but we’ve got some really dope people in the mix that bring that institutional knowledge from the legacy agencies or experiences that really help ground us because we’re really big risk takers over here,” said Gibson. “And sometimes you just need experienced people to tell you what’s good and what’s not sometimes so that you can listen.”

While Culture Brands is Hyundai’s Black agency of record, Gibson said she isn’t confined to collaborating with only Black brands especially as Black culture has become widely embraced. Consumers have become skeptical of tokenism brand marketing, especially Black Twitter after Elon Musk’s takeover.

Hyundai worked with Culture Brands on ads and to incorporate cultural references into its creative messaging, said Hyundai multicultural director Erik Thomas.

“Eunique is a force, so I am in awe of her and I just want to say there are people that come into your life and they are a force for good. And if you allow them, they will make you better every day, and Eunique is one of those people,” said Thomas. 

As a leader, Gibson wants to empower creativity and validate opinions at Culture Brands. She also concedes that the more opportunities the industry gives to women and diverse communities to assume C-suite and leadership roles, the better.

Breyanna Tripp, was promoted at Culture Brands to account manager earlier this year and can attest to Gibson’s team player mentality.

“To me, Eunique Jones Gibson’s humility is the secret sauce behind all of her success as a leader. The creativity lives and breathes because she connects with her team and her community in such an authentic way. Her magnetic energy has inspired me well beyond what I could have ever imagined,” said Tripp.

While marketers have in recent years made promises to diversify vendors, creators and spend more on Black-owned media properties, whether those promises will continue is up in the air.

“The challenge is finding a balance between diversifying vendors, especially since most have less than 10% [of Black-owned agencies], while also considering the resources of non-white agencies that may not have the same level of support as larger agencies,” said Keni Thacker, founder of 100 Rose from Concrete, a nonprofit group of people of color developing strategies for people of color in the ad/media industries. “Although other agencies have implemented similar policies, it remains to be seen how long these good intentions will last and who will hold them accountable.”

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