The ODP Corporation supplier specializes in Gen Z and millennial audiences.
If Courtney Newell hadn’t won the title of Miss Palm Beach County, she may never have started a marketing and communications company that specializes in targeting millennial and multicultural consumers.
It was 2010, the tail end of the recession, and Newell had just graduated from Florida International University, hoping to land a marketing job. But after having 100 interviews and only receiving a temp job, she decided to start her own company.
The only problem was she didn’t have any money—until she entered the beauty pageant and won the top prize of $500. That was just enough to pay for an attorney, a website, and some business cards to launch her company, which she named after the crown that funded it—Crowned Marketing & Communications.
“What really happened from there is I just hit the ground running,” Newell says. “I went and knocked on every door in downtown West Palm Beach and I finally found my first client.”
From that first marketing and fundraising project for a group of local government agencies, Newell has built her 15-employee-strong business that now works with Fortune 500 companies, including the Coca Cola Company and The ODP Corporation, and specializes in helping brands connect with multicultural, Gen Z, and millennial audiences.
Developing a Focus on Multicultural
For Newell, the problem that leads companies to produce ads that are offensive to minority groups is often they do not have diverse staff members making the decisions about the content or its marketing.
“What ends up happening is you can risk the organization’s profit and worst case can be canceled, which is a very common thing now, if you don’t have the right people making the right decisions for the brand or who can at least challenge the brand on some of those things before they ever see the light of day,” Newell says. that’s where we come in.”
Producing a tone-deaf ad is never intentional, she adds, but that doesn’t matter once the campaign goes public.
“Customers go where they identify, so they won’t buy if they don’t identify,” she says. “And if they don’t see themselves in your brand or if they feel like they’ve been singled out or offended by your brand, then they’re not going to patronize the brand. They’ll just go to your competitor
In 2020, Newell wrote “FutureProof: The Blueprint for Building a Brand GenZ and Millennials Love,” a book about how companies can market to the new wave of consumers, that was published on Amazon. The book is a guide to help businesses understand the purchasing power that millennials and GenZ have, the factors influencing their purchasing decisions, and strategies to increase market share among those groups.
One of the book’s top recommendations is for brands to create open lines of communication with their audiences, particularly on social media—a strategy that appeals to younger consumers. “Brands that have Facebook groups or that have open lines of communication with their customers as far as feedback goes—those brands are getting more market share,” Newell says.
Another piece of advice the book offers is to make sure that brands have diverse campaigns, which include people from different races and different abilities. Companies that focus on diversity both in their internal messaging and in their advertising to consumers are brands that will dominate in their market, Newell says.
Partnering with The ODP Corporation
One Fortune 500 company Newell’s company regularly works with is The ODP Corporation, a leading provider of business services, products and digital workplace technology solutions to businesses and consumers, based in Boca Raton, Florida. Crowned Marketing & Communications became a supplier for The ODP Corporation in 2020 and has worked on a range of diverse projects, internal communications, and marketing initiatives.
“Courtney is my go-to person—when I can’t figure it out, I go to Courtney,” says Carmen Deale, supplier diversity program manager at The ODP Corporation and its affiliates. “We both have creative minds so when we collaborate, projects come to life.”
In the past three years, Crowned Marketing & Communications has created an awareness video on supplier diversity and developed virtual booths for the company in national trade shows. Newell says her company’s work with The ODP Corporation has blossomed to providing a range of services.
“I think the beauty in our partnership is they gave us the opportunity to prove ourselves,” Newell says. “And once we were able to show we were a viable vendor, they continued to give us opportunities to grow our company and evolve in our service offerings to them.”