John “JP” Petty, III Talks Culture and the Advertising Industry
John “JP” Petty, III is not just making history, he is history. The Philadelphia native was appointed as the youngest and first African American executive creative director for Wieden+Kennedy, a global advertising agency best known for its work with Nike and other major brands. Petty wants to not only be a trendsetter in the marketing and advertising industry but wants to find innovative and diverse approaches to blending culture into the industry.
Tapping in with Petty was more than an opportunity to discuss his accolades and what he has accomplished, but was more so a moment of understanding of why he is willing to go so hard for the people who look like him. As I listened to Petty, I began to realize that the passion in him is the exact fire that he brings to Wieden+Kennedy. “I want that 13-year-old that’s out there to realize the position I am in now is the same position that will both be available and obtainable for them also,” Petty shares.
As creative director, Petty has been given the green light to be his authentic self. Petty has such an extensive track record that includes collaborations with Champs Sports, Beats by Dre, HBO’s The Defiant Ones, and The McDonald’s Travis Scott Meal just to name a few. Petty has taken all of his marketing and advertising genius and applied it all to his new role. Wieden+Kennedy has been around for forty years and what makes them unique is that they have embraced Petty’s creative mind and that coincides with their overall mission. “It’s not about the money for me nor is that the case for Wieden+Kennedy,” Petty explains. That logic has been a match made in heaven as Petty has basically embraced the responsibility and he can’t wait to see what Wieden+Kennedy looks like forty years from now.
Today, our culture is mimicked more than ever. All walks of life have taken African American culture and tried to apply it to their everyday life. If you turn on a TV right now, you’ll see a commercial, music video, or even a sporting event and see our blueprint on everything that’s marketing and advertisement related. Petty made it clear that while he is all for advertising and marketing for our culture “it has to be for the betterment and progression of our culture while also pointing out just how intelligent and powerful we are.” Petty, a graduate of Lincoln University, wants to continue to be that beacon of light and proof that HBCU students can and will thrive if given the right opportunity. “For me, it’s all about creating a space in my role where I can take my ideas and use them creatively without feeling like I have to derive from who I am as a Black man,” Petty shares.
Wieden+Kennedy has proven just how capable it is of rising to the occasion no matter how big the platform is. During the Super Bowl, Wieden+Kennedy managed to create 11 ads totaling only eight minutes of airtime, which by no means was an easy feat. Shortly after Petty took to his Instagram and simply posted, “We work. And just getting started.”
Speaking of just getting started, during our interview on all things advertising and culture-related, Petty mentioned that he serves as a founding managing partner for 14th And Market, another cultural marketing/ad agency. The company consists of a collective group of winners who strive to be nothing less than great. Having a creative service where “the block” meets the boardroom further solidifies why Petty is all about finding young talent that can see the impact he’s made in the advertising industry and understand that they can do it too.
Having a platform where we can tell our own stories through advertising and marketing is what 14th And Market prides itself on. “For too long, the Black experience in America has been documented, reported and filtered by those not living it” is the quote found on its homepage. Petty and his team are no longer waiting for our stories to be told on non-cultured platforms as they have been for years. They have taken the charge and he is committed to being that change needed now for the FUTURE.
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Photo Credit: Kenneth St. George