On a blustery March afternoon Don Coleman, 51, sits behind his spacious desk in his Southfield, Michigan, headquarters and collects his thoughts. Meetings with creative teams, finance staff, and clients crowd today’s agenda. The next few days will find him on the road, holding even more meetings in Philadelphia and New York.
Rising to his full height of six feet, three inches, the 245-pound former linebacker heads to a conference room where crystalline municipal and charitable awards rest beside University of Michigan football memorabilia. On bookshelves, one can find a 400-plus page hardcover copy of The Vibe History of Hip-Hop sandwiched between other titles like Profit Patterns and Quotable Business. Such diverse interests might seem out of place in other corporate offices, but these elements blend together seamlessly at GlobalHue (No. 1 on the BE ADVERTISING AGENCIES list with $350 million in billings) — the advertising agency where Coleman conducts business, as he works toward his vision of creating a multicultural marketing powerhouse.
And he’s well on his way. With clients that include Chrysler, Verizon Wireless, American Airlines, Miller Brewing Co., and Johnson & Johnson, GlobalHue is a full-service advertising agency to the entire multicultural market. In addition to targeting different ethnic groups, the agency focuses on the urban, young adult, gay, and transgender markets. With offices in New York, Miami, San Antonio, and Los Angeles, the firm is positioned in the main geographic areas where most minority populations reside.
Formerly Don Coleman Advertising (DCA), GlobalHue posted 2002 billings of $350 million, a 6% gain over the $330 million billed in 2001 — all during one of the most brutal advertising environments on record. The new name, which took effect in 2002, reflects DCA’s acquisition of Montemayor y Asociados, a San Antonio-based Hispanic advertising agency with nearly $90 million in annual billings, and Innovasia, a Los Angeles-based Asian American advertising agency with an estimated $20 million in billings.
Why reinvent an already successful business? The answer is clear after looking at America’s changing demographics. According to the 2000 census, African Americans, Hispanics, and Asian Americans will represent 40% of the U.S. population by 2020. Spending power among minority groups is expected to exceed $2 trillion by 2007 — $852.8 billion for African Americans, $454.9 billion for Asian Americans, and $926.1 billion for Hispanics, according to the Selig Center for Economic Growth, a research arm of the University of Georgia. This growth is attributed to population increases as well as rising income levels. “We’re talking about populations that are now 37% of this country [and] are growing at seven times the rate of the white population,” points out Coleman, who says by 2010, over 50% of all people in this country under 21 will fall within this category of consumer: “So marketers are seeing that this is no fad, this is for real.”
Despite their surging numbers, less than half the Fortune 1000 companies actively market to this sector. As spending power among minority groups increases, it’s likely that more corporate giants will allocate advertising dollars in this