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Award-winning creative director puts different spin on young black men as 'statistics'

(February 24, 2015) Twenty Medford, MA High School students and the NAACP Mystic Valley Branch are the collective face of a powerful message in a 30-second PSA going viral on the Internet, entitled "Statistic."
 
The black & white commercial is designed to increase self-confidence in young African-American men while dispelling some preconceived opinions that exist in the general public. The statistics presented in the PSA track positive numbers related to these young men and others across the nation. They were obtained from sources such as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Education, among others. 
 
Behind the message is a group of advertising professionals, including Valerie Graves, president, Valerie Graves Creative and a noted African American advertising industry pioneer. The idea for the PSA was initially developed by Graves and Jack McGoldrick, head of McGoldrick Marketing, several years ago while Graves was chief creative director at the defunct urban-oriented agency Vigilante, which is now defunct.
 


"At the time, my grandson was in college and it got me thinking about how the average kids who are doing ok are rarely mentioned. I was a Black mother and grandmother who wanted my creative team to bring the positive side of successful young Black men to light," Graves recalled.
 
When co-writer Graves received the news from McGoldrick that the Mystic Valley Chapter of the NAACP would be producing the concept they had originally created, it was a special moment even for a veteran chief creative director like Graves.  "Advertising is full of disappointments," said Graves.  "I had accepted that not having 'Statistic' produced would be one of my biggest. Jack never did, and because of him, an important message has been given new life."    
 
Graves is an acclaimed, award-winning advertising executive with more than 30 years of experience developing campaigns for African American, urban, female and general market consumers. As the chief creative officer of major advertising agencies, her innovative writing and vision provided an overall direction.

Graves is renowned for her 14 years as the lead creative executive at the pioneering multicultural agency UniWorld Group. Her award-winning campaigns for Ford Motor Company, Lincoln, AT&T, Kraft, Microsoft, Pepsi and Burger King Corporation ranged from relevant African American stories to celebrity spotlights including Ludacris and Steve Harvey.
 
"When I got my first job in advertising, I discovered my profession. When I moved to multicultural advertising, I found my calling," said Graves.  "Nothing gives me more pleasure than accurately depicting the majesty of Black people."


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