Overcoming the Stereotypes and Bias in Advertising – A Success Story with Digital Marketing Veteran Larry Adams

Year after year in the advertising industry, Larry Adams, a powerhouse digital marketing and media veteran–checked his Blackness at the door. Even with a stacked resume – the former head of design for AT&T and WarnerMedia, he designed and developed HBO Max and launched DIRECTV NOW, and Sr. Advisor for the Bloomberg 2020 presidential campaign – he was constantly reminded of his identity with belittling comments like, “You’re so articulate. Wow, you really know your stuff. This doesn’t offend you, does it?” Most of the time he was the only Black male executive in the room. All of the time, he held his words.

But now, Larry decided to do something by creating X_Stereotype – an AI-powered platform that analyzes content through a lens of diversity and inclusion, returning an insights scorecard that can identify racial bias and risk factors in content. Just months after exiting stealth move, P&G, Chipotle, Bob Evans, 3M, Group Black and more are using the tool to see how their ads impact different audience segments by race, and how they influence purchasing intent.

Additionally, X_Stereotype was engaged by multiple democrat political consultancies and political action committees to optimize ads, social media and messaging ahead of the midterms. One example of these engagements was with Technicolor Political on the Governor Gretchen Whitmer reelection campaign. Larry’s team analyzed competitive and original concepts for video and social media concepts scoring for inclusion, authenticity and engagement giving Technicolor empirical insights that lead to a 50% increase in likeability and conversion metrics, ultimately winning the election.

Challenges he faced during his journey to success

Challenges are so subjective and determined based on one’s perspective and experiences. For him,, growing up in south central Los Angeles was a challenge in itself. There were plenty of distractions and being disconnected from the parts of Los Angeles that had all the resources, like “good” schools, was tough. Every morning at 6:15 am he had to take a school bus from his neighborhood to downtown Los Angeles to attend one of those “good” schools. Staying focused, determined, and excited is how he made it through to find his success, but it wasn’t a straight line. He had to work part time to pay for university and maintain good grades to keep my grants and scholarships, all while also commuting so he could help out at home. His first job was a summer internship at Sony Pictures that changed his life. Without that experience he would never have found his calling in marketing. He had to travel across town on 3 buses at the crack of dawn in order to get to work early and work as hard as he could to make a great impression. Fast forward to now: his challenges now include things such as taking a legacy brand like HBO and making it relevant to a broader consumer base and creating HBO Max, or starting a new company to give underrepresented consumers a voice in the new AI economy, X_Stereotype. 

Lessons learned along the way

His life’s journey has taught him to stay determined, research everything, and stay super positive. It’s true that misery loves company, but on-the-job positivity and high energy helps you move to the front of the line every time. 

His advice to other entrepreneurs

The only bit of advice he can offer to another entrepreneur out there is to keep at it; if you believe in yourself and your idea it will come together. Speaking about his entrepreneurial experience as a Black start-up CEO, it’s so much harder than anyone will admit. Pitching to investors who are looking for “safe bets” is tough because for some reason, as a collective they are perceived as risky, but if you’re on your grind and have a marketable product you will find customers, so stick to it. 

Larry is taking his life’s work of driving more effective advertising through data, culture, and insight – and transforming it into an engine to create a less racist, more inclusive world, fueled by a truthful, inside perspective of today’s diverse experience.

If you would like to get in touch with Larry Adams or his company, you can do it through his –

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