My Experience with The LAGRANT Foundation

This past year, I was honored to be selected as one of the 40 undergraduate recipients of The LAGRANT Foundation’s scholarship for minority students studying marketing, advertising, or public relations! As part of the scholarship, the other recipients and I went to Cincinnati, Ohio for a few days of networking and workshop events. We got to hear from a variety of representatives from Procter & Gamble, Citizen Relations, and WE communications.

One of the things that really stood out to me during my weekend in Cincinnati were the presentations given by a few of the P&G representatives about corporate social responsibility and the difficulties corporations face in our polarized society. One of the presentations by Damon Jones, Vice President, Global Communications and Advocacy at Procter and Gamble, focused on Gillette’s toxic masculinity campaign, the steps that lead to the campaign, and the controversy that followed the release of the ad, We Believe: The Best Men Can Be. It was interesting to hear about the decisions and planning that went into the campaign, and I was truly impressed with Gillette’s dedication to their corporate social responsibility. With the #MeToo movement at its peak, they knew that an ad like this would spark some of the necessary conversations that men needed to have, despite the anticipated controversy and backlash they knew they’d likely receive.

Another presentation examined P&G’s My Black is Beautiful campaign and The Talk advertisement. This ad, likewise, took on the extremely controversial matter of racism and its current place in our society. Unlike Pepsi’s disastrous Black Lives Matter ad that featured Kendall Jenner, The Talk was praised for how it addressed and approached such a sensitive topic. The presenters emphasized the necessity of minority inclusion in the making of ads, such as this one; The Talk was made by minorities for minorities, and it didn’t incorporate a controversial issue for the sole purpose of generating buzz. This is the key difference between it and the ad by Pepsi. Although many other companies have started to use their platform to take a stance on societal issues, such as Nike with its Colin Kaepernick campaign, many of them seem to be exploiting these matters for the sake of sales and views. Procter & Gamble’s recent campaigns, however, seem to truly be for the sake of bringing light to important issues that our society currently faces.

Lastly, I was truly amazed by the other incredibly talented and ambitious recipients of the scholarship. Everyone was so driven and dedicated, and it was great to be able to discuss the common hardships that we as minorities face in the corporate world. There was actually another undergraduate recipient that attends UNC, and we are both in the Hussman School of Journalism and Media! She’s just one of the many connections I made during my time in Cincinnati.

I’d like to thank everyone from Procter & Gamble, Citizen Relations, and WE Communications for answering our questions and giving us insight into their businesses and the communications industry. The experience was truly enriching and informative, and I am so grateful to Kim Hunter for providing me with this opportunity. I’m excited to see what the future holds for all of the other recipients, as I know they will accomplish great things!