Wil Power Entertainment Agency is the first African-American marketing agency to specialize in salon advertising and promotion. You read it right. WPE founded in 1996, runs a successful salon-based marketing campaign for successful films such as Acrimony, Ride Along, and Barbershop. The impeccable amount of work WPE puts into the market provides a way for owners to resonate with their target consumers! We sat down to speak with Shelton the amazing work the agency is doing!
Do you mind tell our readers about yourself and the idea behind starting Wil Power Entertainment Agency?
My name is Wil Shelton and I am the CEO of Wil Power Entertainment. I have been a marketing consultant for the entertainment industry and global brand for over 20 years. People always ask me how I got into this business and I always tell them that it got into me. My journey began around the mid 90s. I was actually a licensed hairstylist and I opened my own hair salon, which I had for about ten years. In doing hair, my clients and I would always talk about television, film, and of course gossip. Music is always apart of the salon too. Clients would hear a certain song or album and at the end of the session, they would express how much they liked it. We would also discuss films and I would recommend films to my clients. I even had clients who didn’t even have an appointment call me and ask! I had an epiphany, I realized that I was helping the entertainment industry by marketing their releases. I wondered if there was anybody that would market in a salon because it was an untapped environment but it seemed like it would work. I decided to pitch it to the entertainment industry. After sending in proposals, within 30 days I started receiving free CDs to play in salon and advanced screening passes (laughs)
Could you tell us why you believe it is so important to create that connection with African American women in the community?
I believe it is important because they’ve always been an underserved audience and they have high consumption rates for entertainment, luxury products, etc. They really share with their friends and family more about products that benefit them, they are the ones that support these projects when they are released. The more successful these projects become, the more the entertainment companies will continue to produce the content they want and desire.
What is the main mission WPE sets out?
The main mission is to show companies that the beauty shop is not just a place to go for grooming but it is also where consumers go to get the scoop on the latest trends and popular culture. Also, to make the entertainment industry and global brands more recognized, the spending power and influence that they have and to let content creators know it is important to know that African American women are high consumers of video and music. They average about 50 hours a week watching television and consuming music. No one watches more television and gross to the theater more than they do. They want to see diversity on the screen with lead characters who look like them on the screen. That is the main mission we set out.
Could you tell us about other ways WPE raises awareness of entertainment industry brands?
We raise awareness through our social media strategy. We have a network of over 75,000 salons across the country. We are able to reach 100 million visitors per year annually with the network of salons. Most of the salons have their own social media accounts (Facebook and Instagram) so we are able to raise awareness through actively posting to their social media pages. We also have a soul food eatery division where we execute activation in soul food restaurants. We partner with them to get the word out on entertainment, it’s not only a place for dining but it’s also where you can get to know what is going on in entertainment. In addition, we have a faith based division where we design campaigns for projects and partner with local churches to spread the word on projects targeted to church goers.
WPE has over 20 years of success in the film, television industry, and etc. What aspects would you say have played a helping hand in the success of WPE?
That’s a great question. I think the browning of America and the increased population of minority has really shifted the focus of companies targeting African Americans. Secondly, I believe that our bind power which is 1.2 trillion annually has influenced global brands and entertainment companies to spend more advertising dollars in reaching this segment. Third of all, because this segment has been underserved, companies realize that they are relieving revenue on the table by not tapping into this consumer base. They have realized that we are brand loyal consumers that enjoy spending income on quality products and rewarding themselves and their families. Fourth of all, stats have shown that black women watch television more than any other segment and go to the movies twice as much as any other segment. Additionally, black women actually hold the purse strings in their households and marketers recognize this. Lastly, there are now over 23 million black females in the United States and that is a huge demographic to ignore. They are leaving an undeniable impression on the economy, social consciousness, and the cultural landscape and they are NOT showing any signs of stopping anytime slowing down.
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