sheldon levy

African-American ad legend Sheldon Levy

A co-creator of content across a variety of media platforms, Sheldon Levy is a longtime innovator in the advertising community, responsible for creating ad campaigns that generate powerful connections between consumers and a long list of well-known brands. As the executive vice president and deputy director for broadcast production at the global creative powerhouse Saatchi & Saatchi (whose list of Fortune 100 clients includes Proctor & Gamble, General Mills and Novartis), Levy is an established player in the ad industry, who’s also deeply committed to developing the next generation of advertising thoroughbreds.

EBONY.com recently caught up with the advertising pioneer to talk about his long career and the special projects close to his heart. 

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The It Factor

A 30-year advertising veteran, Levy travels the world as an executive producer and administrator for Saatchi & Saatchi, hiring, training and mentoring the next generation of players in the creative industry. “I’m a big believer in changing the vocabulary of diversity within advertising,” says Levy. “The industry is experiencing a great deal of growth right now because of advances in technology, and I feel it’s important that we venture into this new stream of traffic with a diverse mix of talent who reflect the world that we live in, and also create campaigns that are competitive and comprehensive.”  

New Frontiers

“The technology advances over the last five years has literally changed the creative face of advertising,” Levy continues. “Every year, we are getting new tools that are making our jobs easier—allowing us to integrate audio and video with a nimbleness and flexibility like never before. These exciting new opportunities ultimately allow us to deliver our final product a lot quicker to the marketplace. The challenge right now is how to create intimacy with our audience and deliver messages to them that are really relevant to their lives.”

Creating Transcendent Impressions

In an increasingly global economy, Levy stresses that next gen advertisers must be prepared to create brand ideas that “hit” their target audiences more intimately, as well as resonate with multicultural audiences on an international scale. “The creative community is going to have to create messages that jump off the screen and grab the consumer by the collar,” he says. “They are also going to have to learn how to effectively prepare global campaigns that transcend language and culture for worldwide audiences.”

Advice to Next Gen Filmmakers

Levy is heavily involved in a number of programs that identify and train the next gen professionals, such as the New Directors Showcase, hosted annually by Saatchi & Saatchi during the Cannes Ad Festival. He’s also a longtime supporter of the innovative Streetlights job training/placement program, and the annual Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival. “Having the right kind of access and support are useful resources anytime during your career, but especially at the beginning,” he says. “Competition for jobs and opportunities are now global. So individuals entering the creative field must strive for greater vision and ingenuity than ever before.”  

Gil Robertson IV is an award-winning journalist, bestselling author and president of the African-American Film Critics Association.