The Player: Harris aims to make diversity part of MindShare's mind-set

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David Harris is a realist. The new director of multicultural marketing of MindShare North America does not have illusions about his company.

"We are not minority-owned," Mr. Harris said.

The context for his remark is the recent wave of automotive multicultural reviews-particularly the contentious Chrysler Group contest-in which competing shops were required to be certified as minority-owned.

"That is one of the reasons why we do not see a potential for growth in the automotive area for us," he says. MindShare handles local Hispanic-market buying for Ford Motor Co. The bulk of multicultural media is handled by WPP Group's UniWorld for African American and Zubi Advertising for Hispanic.

But it is a measure of the man that Mr. Harris, despite his limited opportunities in Detroit, sees unlimited growth in other areas. "In our industry today," he said, "the fastest-growing sectors are multicultural and interactive." And his shop has a fair share of that business. MindShare's multicultural clients are the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, Unilever, Kodak, the U.S. Marines and Western Union.

Mr. Harris has headed multicultural marketing at MindShare since 2000, but his range of operations was strictly local. His promotion puts him in charge of all multicultural operations across North America for MindShare.

He started in the industry 25 years ago as an account manager at Foote, Cone & Belding's New York office. From there he moved to Ketchum, to N.W. Ayer and then to Ogilvy & Mather.

"I was doing general-market client assignments," Mr. Harris said, "with an occasional ethnic assignment." In 1988, Mr. Harris joined Lockhart & Pettus, New York, one of the largest African-American agencies at the time (the shop shuttered in 1996), and Chrysler's first minority agency. "We introduced Chrysler to the concept of multicultural marketing," he said.


Mr. Harris' experience at Lockhart-whose other clients included Pepsi-Cola Co., Kentucky Fried Chicken and Dark & Lovely Hair Care-inspired him to set off on his own in 1993, opening his own ethnic-consulting practice, DLH Consulting. His clients were Colgate Palmolive Co., Schick, Best Foods, BankOne and USA Network. In 1999, he was courted back by Ogilvy and segued into MindShare when it launched the following year.

Mr. Harris' largest account at MindShare is ONDCP, which he calls "one of the nation's most comprehensive multicultural efforts." He employs six agencies to handle media for each ethnic group-African-American, Hispanic, Asian, American Indian, Alaskan native and Puerto Rican.

"David is always put in the position-as most multicultural planners are-of competing with a general-market budget, and he does it very admirably," said Alan Levitt, director of the ONDCP's national youth anti-drug media campaign. "He focuses on delivering messages, and he does an excellent job."

Fast Facts

Name: David Harris

Age: 50

Now: Director-multicultural marketing, MindShare North America

Challenge: To build a larger multicultural mind-set and client roster.

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