Alumnus Mike Jackson Helps Advertisers Navigate America’s Changing Demographics
Since the start of his career in marketing and public relations almost four decades ago, Media and Journalism alumnus Mike Jackson, '78, has been setting and exceeding expectations in the industry.
After studying journalism at Kent State in the seventies, Jackson wanted to be the next Walter Cronkite, in that he had a big love for news. Kent State was where he gained more introspection about the world, after he had attended integrated Catholic schools in his hometown of Youngstown during his youth.
But after being exposed to advertising and attending graduate school at the University of Southern California, he really found a love for marketing.
“I needed to figure out a way to just pay for my education because I was paying for it myself,” Jackson said. “I landed a job as a kind of market representative for Coca-Cola.”
He got the job during his time at USC and was able to juggle both work and classes. This was his first role at a major company, and he loved it. And it was only the beginning of his impressive career.
Ten years later, Jackson went on to work for companies such as Pepsi and Coors as the operations manager and the vice president of marketing, respectively. He managed the second-largest advertising media budget at General Motors as the head of Marketing for North America. By moving up the ranks and working in various positions, he expanded his roles and also gained experience in fields like manufacturing and distribution.
“I love all aspects of demand building: whether it was PR, whether it was marketing, whether it was pricing, whether it was distribution, whether it was production,” Jackson said. “I love being in the mix and working with all of that.”
After spending so much time in top-level positions with these corporations, Jackson eventually became burnt out. This didn’t mark the end of his career; rather, he was ready to take what he learned from his experiences and apply it in his own way.
“It's been the most rewarding part of my life, really, just working with a lot of different companies, a lot of different industries, a lot of different segments, where you can truly take what you learned back from the big behemoths and put it to work,” Jackson said.
Thus was born 2050 Marketing: a group that helps clients to navigate the changing demographics in America as they relate to advertising and brand building. By the year 2050, the minority will be the majority in this country. Jackson wants to guide entrepreneurs through this transition and ensure that these voices are heard from every rung of the ladder.
Jackson observed over the past year how advertising messages shifted significantly to appeal to changes caused by the pandemic and other social issues like racism and environmentalism. Jackson spent nearly every other day on CNBC after the murder of George Floyd. He discussed advertising methods companies used to capitalize on the moment and whether they truly had the effect they aimed to achieve.
“If you’re effective, you’re going to deliver a message that resonates,” Jackson said. “If you’re really effective, that person will become an advocate of your brand and purchase your product for life. So it just really enforced a lot of the messaging that I had carried with me, but it was an entirely different level.”
Jackson has been, and continues to be, a trailblazer in all of his positions throughout his career.
“I'm the same person I was at Kent State when I was 21 years old,” Jackson said. “Now, I've got a lot more knowledge, I've got a lot more experiences, but I'm the same person. I respected everybody I came in contact (with) then. I had a huge passion for economic and social diversity and I was outspoken writing about it and speaking about it.”