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Ricki Fairley

Marketing executive Ricki Fairley was born on June 17, 1956 in Washington, D.C. to Wilma Holmes and Richard Fairley. She graduated from Dartmouth College in 1978 with her B.A. degree in English. She went on to receive her M.B.A. degree from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management in 1981.

Upon graduation, Fairley was hired as an associate brand manager for McNeil Consumer Products Company in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania. She then worked as an associate brand manager at Nabisco from 1984 to 1988, and as senior brand manager at Reckitt & Colman from 1989 until 1995. In 1995, Fairley was named vice president of marketing for the SEGA Channel, and from 1996 to 2000, she served as marketing director for The Coca-Cola Company. She then worked as vice president of marketing for Chupa Chups USA from 2000 to 2003, and as partner and strategist for PowerPact, LLC from 2003 to 2005. In 2005, Fairley was hired as partner and senior vice president of strategy and planning for IMAGES USA, and promoted to chief marketing officer and partner in 2009. In February of 2012, Fairley established DOVE Marketing Inc., where she serves as president.

Fairley is the president emeritus of the Black Alumni of Dartmouth Association, is a member of the Dartmouth Committee on Trustees, and serves as board chair of Kenny Leon's True Colors Theatre Company. Fairley has also served on the boards of the Latin American Association, Ne-Yo’s Compound Foundation, and Move This World. She manages the relationship between the Links, Inc. and the White House Office of Public Engagement as a member of the National Women’s Issues and Economic Empowerment Committee, and is a member of the Silver Spring, Maryland Chapter of the Links, Inc.

Fairley holds the Leadership Award from the Creative Thinking Association of America, was named a Top 100 Marketer by Black Enterprise magazine in February 2011, and is a member of the 2011 Class of Leadership Atlanta. She received the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) 2013 Multicultural Excellence Award for the African American radio advertising for the Obama for America campaign.

Fairley has two daughters, Amanda and Hayley; both are graduates of Dartmouth College.

Ricki Fairley was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on January 31, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.069

Sex

Female

Interview Date

1/31/2014

Last Name

Fairley-Brown

Maker Category
Marital Status

Divorced

Occupation
Schools

Dartmouth College

Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Business

Academy Of The Holy Cross

Keene Elementary School

St. Anthony Catholic School

St. Michael the Archangel School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Ricki

Birth City, State, Country

Washington

HM ID

FAI04

Favorite Season

Summer

State

District of Columbia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Negril, Jamaica

Favorite Quote

No Is Never The Answer, It's Always How.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Maryland

Birth Date

6/17/1956

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Baltimore

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Hot Fudge Sundaes

Short Description

Marketing executive Ricki Fairley (1956 - ) was the founder of DOVE Marketing Inc., and worked as a brand manager and senior marketing executive at top corporations for over thirty years.

Employment

McNeil Consumer Products Company

Nabisco

Reckitt & Colman

Sega Channel

The Coca-Cola Company

Chupa Chups USA

PowerPact, LLC

IMAGES USA

DOVE Marketing, Inc.

Favorite Color

Purple

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Ricki Fairley's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Ricki Fairley lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Ricki Fairley describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Ricki Fairley remembers her maternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Ricki Fairley describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Ricki Fairley talks about her paternal great-grandmother's memories of Frederick Douglass

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Ricki Fairley talks about her paternal family's emphasis on education

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Ricki Fairley describes her father's educational experiences

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Ricki Fairley talks about her parents' relationship

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Ricki Fairley describes her parents' personalities and her likeness to them

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Ricki Fairley talks about her sister and immediate family

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Ricki Fairley describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Ricki Fairley describes her upbringing in Silver Spring, Maryland

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Ricki Fairley describes her schooling

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Ricki Fairley remembers her father's emphasis on Ivy League education

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Ricki Fairley talks about her early interests and activities

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Ricki Fairley remembers her first exposure to black advertising

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Ricki Fairley talks about her father's involvement in her career

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Ricki Fairley remembers her experiences at the Academy of the Holy Cross in Kensington, Maryland

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Ricki Fairley talks about her early literary interests

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Ricki Fairley remembers traveling with her family

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Ricki Fairley recalls her arrival at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Ricki Fairley talks about the black community at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Ricki Fairley remembers adjusting to college life

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Ricki Fairley recalls her influences at Dartmouth College

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Ricki Fairley remembers the all-black cheerleading team at Dartmouth College

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Ricki Fairley recalls her decision to attend the Kellogg School of Management in Evanston, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Ricki Fairley reflects upon her father

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Ricki Fairley recalls her experiences at the Kellogg School of Management in Evanston, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Ricki Fairley remembers her internship at the McNeil Consumer Products Company

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Ricki Fairley talks about her first marketing position at the McNeil Consumer Products Company

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Ricki Fairley describes Johnson and Johnson Products' response to the Chicago Tylenol murders

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Ricki Fairley remembers marketing Children's Tylenol and CoTylenol

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Ricki Fairley remembers working for RJR Nabisco, Inc.

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Ricki Fairley remembers her experiences at Reckitt and Colman plc

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Ricki Fairley describes the collapse of the Sega Channel

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Ricki Fairley recalls the discrimination against mothers in Corporate America

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Ricki Fairley describes her role at The Coca-Cola Company

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Ricki Fairley recalls establishing the Idea Works think tank at The Coca-Cola Company

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Ricki Fairley remembers creating the Dasani bottled water brand

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Ricki Fairley recalls developing the Coke Cards promotion

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Ricki Fairley remembers initiating The Coca-Cola Foundation's sponsorship of the Essence Music Festival

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Ricki Fairley remembers The Coca-Cola Company's advertising deal with the 'Tom Joyner Morning Show'

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Ricki Fairley describes her work at Chupa Chups U.S.A.

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Ricki Fairley remembers marketing pasta during the low carb diet trend

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Ricki Fairley recalls marketing Hillshire Farm to the black community

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Ricki Fairley describes Hillshire Farm's relationship with Steve Harvey

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Ricki Fairley remembers the impact of her breast cancer diagnosis

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Ricki Fairley remembers her work on President Barack Obama's reelection campaign, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Ricki Fairley remembers her work on President Barack Obama's reelection campaign, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Ricki Fairley talks about founding DOVE Marketing, Inc.

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Ricki Fairley talks about the future of black advertising firms

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Ricki Fairley describes her company, DOVE Marketing, Inc.

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Ricki Fairley talks about her breast cancer advocacy

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Ricki Fairley reflects upon her life

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Ricki Fairley talks about her father's perspective on her career

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Ricki Fairley describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Ricki Fairley talks about the support for black entrepreneurs

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Ricki Fairley reflects upon her legacy and how she would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

1$4

DAStory

6$6

DATitle
Ricki Fairley talks about her paternal great-grandmother's memories of Frederick Douglass
Ricki Fairley recalls the discrimination against mothers in Corporate America
Transcript
They're from your [paternal] great-grandmother, I guess right?$$Yes.$$Okay. What was her name?$$Her name was Cora Wilkinson.$$Um-hm.$$And--$$So you've got her letters, that's really--$$Yeah they are very, very cool, handwritten letters. She tells the story of moving to Washington [D.C.] when she was about twelve and her dad was actually run out of Charleston [South Carolina] by the Klan [Ku Klux Klan, KKK]. He was very kind of rebellious and kind of a (background noise)--you know, and they owned--the family owned a oak farm in Charleston and he was kind of run out of town and fled to D.C. and built a house in Anacostia [Washington, D.C.] using the oak from the farm and they were sitting on the porch one day and Frederick Douglass happened to walk down the street and walked up and knocked on the door and said, you know, "Who built your house? I just bought the land next door and I'm looking for someone to build a house." And her dad, I guess my great-great-grandfather said, "I built the house from my farm in Charleston." He's like, "Well build me a house." So he actually built Frederick Douglass a house next door. And her letters talk about how she was afraid of Frederick Douglass because her--him and her dad used to argue at night sitting on the porch. Her dad would always talk about him because he had--was like I think somewhat of a womanizer and always had white--had several white wives. They would have these arguments over politics or whatever and they always would kind of wake her up from sleep arguing about stuff. It was probably--you know, that was their relationship, I don't think it was mean, I think it was sort of how they talked to each other, it was fun. But it distur- it disturbed her as a kid and she told these stories like I don't know they woke me up again and I don't know what they are fighting about, I wish they would shut up and the letters are pretty funny. But, but that was sort of the story there and then later there is actually an area in Annapolis [Maryland] called Highland Beach [Maryland], you know Highland Beach? It's a black beach, so Frederick Douglass actually bought this peninsula in Annapolis called Highland Beach and sold the land to black families to have--to let them have a beach house. So, my--so, I think Highland Beach was established in 1896 [sic. 1893] and so somewhere in there our family did buy land there. So we have some land in Highland Beach.$$Yeah I think it was all--it was purchased in Douglass' name from what I recall on the tour, you know Douglass died in 1895--$$Yes.$$--but his son [Charles Douglass] actually managed the development (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Managed the development, and actually his daughter [Rosetta Douglass]--he never lived in the, in the house there. There is a house there that's his house but his daughter did--lived in the house and the house is like a museum. It's a very, very cool place to go to, and--$$Right, I think Mary Church Terrell's descendants operate the museum.$$Yes and she lives next door, Jean [Jean Langston], yes.$$Exactly.$$So they all grew up with my parents.$$So Douglass would argue about his--his girlfriends.$$His girlfriends, his politics, whatever and the way Cora described it, it was like gosh they are arguing again, now what are they talking about. I think she was probably like a young teenager.$$What--what was your--now this would be--Cora would be your great-grandmother so it would be your great-great-grandfather (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Yes, yes, yes.$$--who was arguing with Frederick Douglass. Do you know his name?$$No but I can tell you later, I can look it up.$$He was the one who was chased out of North Carolina [sic.] by the Klan (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Out of North Carolina, yes I do have his name I just--forgive me, I have a really great memory but I just don't have same day service (laughter).$$No this is good because it gives people a clue. That's why I asked the question just to give people a clue because if you don't know his exact name that's all right (unclear) (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) I have it though, yeah, we have--$$Yeah, okay.$$--a great recording and actually--actually what we've been able to find is that they--they all went to Oberlin [Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio].$Do you have kids yourself at this point?$$So, in--my daughters were born in '85 [1985] and '92 [1992]. So I had Amanda [Amanda Brown] when I was at Nabisco [RJR Nabisco, Inc.] and I was the--I should have told this story back then but I was the only woman in the office that had kids--had a kid. I hid it until I was six months pregnant. I just kept putting safety pins in my skirt. And, you know, I was pretty thin so I could sort of get away with it for a while until one day I threw up in my plate at the lunch table (laughter) and I had to finally tell them that I was pregnant. It was a major deal, I was, I was a month away of getting promoted; they promised me that I would be promoted to brand manager and the VP of marketing took me out to lunch that day and said, "Ricki [HistoryMaker Ricki Fairley] you have done a disservice to this company. We were banking on you, we were going to invest in you, we were going to promote you but now you got pregnant and I have no guarantee that you're going to come back. So and if you tell this conversation to anyone, it's between me and you, I am not going to be able to promote you now and if you reveal this conversation, I will deny it." So I went back after lunch--I'm, whatever, twenty-nine years old go back after lunch. My boss was a woman. The women in the company all wore suits with ties. A couple of them were married, most of them were not married, never had kids, weren't even thinking about it. The women before me were hard core.$$They wore men's suits and ties?$$They wore like (gesture)--they were hard core. They were not about to even think about having a baby. And my--so I had a woman boss, and she had a woman boss, and then we had a male boss on top of her who had five kids, whose wife stayed home. And so, so I went to my boss and I told her what happened and she was like horrified so she went to her boss and her name was Valerie Friedman--she went to her boss and he went to bat for me, the guy with the five kids and he reported to the VP at the time and he went to bat for me and I got promoted like three days later, eight months pregnant. But it was a fight and even then when I came back from maternity leave, they did everything possible to challenge me and they gave me an assignment where I had to travel every week to see if I would--if I could stick it out. And literally my mom [Wilma King Holmes] at the time was--I would literally get on a plane in Newark [New Jersey], fly to D.C. [Washington, D.C.], throw the baby at my mom, check the baby's luggage--Amanda's luggage on the plane and then I'd run and get on another plane going where I was going and my mom would take the kid and the--get the luggage and take the kid. And we did that for about six months until I proved myself that I was going to be able to work with a baby. And, for the first six months of her life we did that and then I had a live in nanny after that. They did everything possible to challenge whether I could have a kid and work too. So, and I was determined so, then I had Hayley [Hayley Brown] at Reckitt and Colman [Reckitt and Colman plc; Reckitt Benckiser Group plc] right when I started the trade marketing department and it was a new day and I said, "You know what, the kid is attached to the boob, the boob has to go on the road, the kid goes with the boob." I forced it on them and literally I would have the people working for me pushing this stroller and we would go on a business trip and one guy his name was Tim [ph.] and he's like, "I got the stroller today," because someone would carry my briefcase, somebody would take the baby but I took her everywhere. I travelled with her until she was off the boob for a year and I travelled with Amanda when she was out of school, we would all go, everywhere. So, you know, I was like--it was a different, you know, corporate environment and, and I tried to open the doors for other women to have babies because it was not heard of.$$So it's possible to do that, it's just the culture of the company that makes it difficult to--$$Yes, yes and in those days they didn't know it, their wives stayed home. They went home and dinner was cooked and the babies were in bed and they were happy campers. They didn't have a concept for a woman, "You know I've got to go get--my kid is sick, the school just called and I've got to go get my kid." That was not a concept for them and I think the women around me we just okay, we're going to deal, and teach them how to deal.$$So they were out of touch.$$Yeah they just didn't know. They were men--white men who never had to think about it, right.$$And their reaction--initial reaction was to stress you out.$$Yeah and so but I mean I had to have a live in nanny because I travelled and I had to make choices. I had--I had a live in nanny that lived with me from when Amanda was about six months until she was five and then we had a nanny until we moved to Atlanta [Georgia] until I'd say she was about eleven and then I had a nanny--and when they, when they--Amanda turned sixteen and could drive because at that point it becomes a driving thing. Amanda said, "Okay mom I'm done with nannies, I can drive now." So I said okay and we gave up the nanny. It was like a family decision, "All right well the nanny does these five jobs. Which one are you going to do, 'cause the jobs aren't going to go away." So, but, my kids are still very close to our one nanny that we had the longest, Holly Ann [ph.].