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Esther "E.T." Franklin

Media and advertising executive Esther “E.T.” Franklin was born on July 21, 1957 in Chicago, Illinois. Her mother, Dolores Johnson, was a teacher; her father, Leon Johnson, a teacher and minister. Raised in Wilberforce, Ohio and Chicago, Illinois, Franklin graduated from Evanston Township High School in 1975. She received her B.S. degree in business administration from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana in 1979 and her M.M. degree from Northwestern University’s Kellogg Business School in 1993. Franklin has also completed certificate programs at the University of Chicago and Northwestern University.

In 1980, Franklin was hired as a field project director at Market Facts, Inc. in Chicago. From 1982 to 1993, she worked for Burrell Communications, first as a market research analyst, and later as vice president and associate research director. In 1984, Franklin took a brief hiatus from Burrell Communications to work as a research manager for the Johnson Publishing Company. She was hired by Leo Burnett Advertising in 1993 and worked on various Philip Morris brands as vice president and planning director for Marlboro USA until 2001. At Leo Burnett, Franklin was instrumental in launching several corporate trend initiatives, including LeoShe, Foresight Matters and 20Twenty Vision, focused on the female consumer and twenty-something audience. She also appeared on Oprah, where she discussed LeoShe's research on beauty myths.

In 2002, Franklin was named senior vice president, director of consumer context planning for Starcom USA, a Starcom MediaVest Group (SMG) company. She was appointed as executive vice president, director of cultural identities of Starcom MediaVest Group in 2006, and was later promoted to executive vice president, head of SMG Americas Experience Strategy in 2011. During her time at SMG, Franklin pioneered Cultural Communication Anthropology and worked on Beyond Demographics, a research study exploring the vital role of culture and identity in reaching consumers.

Franklin has received numerous honors for her work. She was named an AdAge “Women to Watch” and received the “Changing the Game” honor from Advertising Women of New York (AWNY). Franklin was honored with the prestigious “Legend Award” at the 2011 AdColor Ceremony, and was identified as one of the Top Women Executives in Advertising & Marketing by Black Enterprise in both 2012 and 2013. In addition, she has published several multicultural and subculture targeting pieces, and is sought out as a speaker and panelist on all topics related to the evolving consumer landscape.

Franklin has chaired The HistoryMakers National Advisory Board's Advertising/Marketing Committee and sat on the global advisory committee of the World Future Society. She has also served as a board member of the Family Institute at Northwestern University and the Chicago Urban League.

Esther Franklin was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on October 21, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.257

Sex

Female

Interview Date

10/21/2014

Last Name

Franklin

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Schools

Northwestern University

University of Chicago

University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign

Evanston Township High School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Esther

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

FRA12

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

I'll Be Waiting For You.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

7/21/1957

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Frozen Custard, Jelly Belly's, Popcorn

Short Description

Media executive and advertising executive Esther "E.T." Franklin (1957 - ) was the executive vice president and director of Starcom MediaVest Group Americas Experience Strategy. She also served as a vice president at Burrell Communications and Leo Burnett Advertising.

Employment

Starcom MediaVest Group

Starcom

Leo Burnett

Burrell Advertising

Johnson Publishing Company

Market Facts, Inc.

Favorite Color

Green

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Esther "E.T." Franklin's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Esther "E.T." Franklin lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Esther "E.T." Franklin describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Esther "E.T." Franklin remembers her family's trips to the segregated South

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Esther "E.T." Franklin describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Esther "E.T." Franklin describes her parents' education

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Esther "E.T." Franklin describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Esther "E.T." Franklin recalls her early social interactions in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Esther "E.T." Franklin describes her early personality

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Esther "E.T." Franklin lists her siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Esther "E.T." Franklin describes the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Esther "E.T." Franklin describes her neighborhood in Wilberforce, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Esther "E.T." Franklin remembers her childhood in Wilberforce, Ohio, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Esther "E.T." Franklin remembers her childhood in Wilberforce, Ohio, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Esther "E.T." Franklin recalls her early experiences of racial discrimination

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Esther "E.T." Franklin remembers the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Esther "E.T." Franklin remembers the assassination of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Esther "E.T." Franklin describes her early experiences of religion

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Esther "E.T." Franklin recalls her commute to school in Xenia, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Esther "E.T." Franklin remembers her early aspirations

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Esther "E.T." Franklin remembers Evanston Township High School in Evanston, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Esther "E.T." Franklin describes her father's illness

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Esther "E.T." Franklin remembers joining the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Esther "E.T." Franklin describes the development of her spirituality

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Esther "E.T." Franklin remembers her employment after college

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Esther "E.T." Franklin remembers joining the Burrell Advertising Agency in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Esther "E.T." Franklin describes the culture of the Burrell Advertising Agency

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Esther "E.T." Franklin recalls working for John H. Johnson at Johnson Publishing Company

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Esther "E.T." Franklin remembers her first marriage

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Esther "E.T." Franklin describes her second husband

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Esther "E.T." Franklin remembers working for Philip Morris Inc.

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Esther "E.T." Franklin recalls the changing perception of tobacco products

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Esther "E.T." Franklin describes the LeoShe initiative

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Esther "E.T." Franklin recalls her work at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Esther "E.T." Franklin describes her decision to join Starcom Worldwide

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Esther "E.T." Franklin recalls her early career at Starcom Worldwide, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Esther "E.T." Franklin recalls her early career at Starcom Worldwide, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Esther "E.T." Franklin describes her position at Starcom Worldwide

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Esther "E.T." Franklin describes her work on The History Channel's 'Band of Brothers'

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Esther "E.T." Franklin recalls her recognition as an Ad Age Woman to Watch

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Esther "E.T." Franklin talks about female advertising executives

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Esther "E.T." Franklin recalls becoming the director of cultural identities at Starcom Mediavest Group, Inc.

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Esther "E.T." Franklin describes her role as the director of cultural identities

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Esther "E.T." Franklin describes the female leadership at Starcom Worldwide

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Esther "E.T." Franklin talks about the Beyond Demographics project

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Esther "E.T." Franklin describes her relationship with her second husband

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Esther "E.T." Franklin describes her current position at Starcom Mediavest Group, Inc.

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Esther "E.T." Franklin talks about the impact of digital media

Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Esther "E.T." Franklin talks about the discrimination against African American consumers

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Esther "E.T." Franklin talks about the future of advertising

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Esther "E.T." Franklin reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Esther "E.T." Franklin shares a message to aspiring marketing professionals

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Esther "E.T." Franklin reflects upon her life and how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Esther "E.T." Franklin narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

5$3

DAStory

2$7

DATitle
Esther "E.T." Franklin describes her work on The History Channel's 'Band of Brothers'
Esther "E.T." Franklin describes the culture of the Burrell Advertising Agency
Transcript
Now while you're in this role I believe was when you worked on the project with The History Channel [History]?$$The HistoryMakers?$$History Channel's 'Band of Brothers.'$$Yes. Yes.$$Can you describe that project and what your role was?$$History Channel 'Band of Brothers.' That was--at that time we were trying to think about how we're going to innovate in the media space and how is that going to--how we are going to be bringing it closer to consumer experience. The industry had been growing driven by technology and we felt if we can bring the consumer perspective into the mix that it would distinguish us from our competition. So there was an opportunity by the-'Band of Brothers' was being developed and there was an opportunity to place that--I'm sorry that was being placed on The History Channel. The History Channel came to our media organization [at Starcom Worldwide] with a traditional package. For X amount of money you can have thirty second spots here, you can have integration in this way you know the traditional media package. What we said is we want to do it a little bit different, we don't want to just place advertising in the, in the programming. We want to create lead in and lead out interstitials if you will. So if the 'Band of Brothers' is a series of episodes people might not necessarily be able to be see every, every segment of the series. What if instead of taking the traditional media package we use that time and create summary vignettes of the previous episode. So that if a person missed the previous episode when they sit down to watch instead of seeing a commercial leading in they'll see the summary from the previous episode and at the end of the program they'll see a lead in into the next one. So we used our media dollars to create those interstitials and place them in that manner and that was new and innovative at the time. It was a way to think about placing and using media and programming in a way that was--reflected consumer behavior versus placing advertising in programming.$$And what year is this?$$That had to have been around 2003.$$So HBO [Home Box Office] at this point is huge. Right? HBO is one of the main players in creating new content and now you're using interstitials in a different way because interstitials are not new but this use of interstitial is new--$$Yes.$$--and how effective was it?$$That was very effective. People were writing in about--we were able to increase people's engagement, in other words, time spent. They were talking about these interstitials as a new way of seeing how media was being used. So the [U.S.] Army was very happy and The History Channel was happy so that was very effective for us.$$So was the Army the advertising end of this?$$No, not necessarily. I can't remember exactly the clients that were involved in advertising. I don't, I don't remember.$$Um-hm.$And Tom Burrell [HistoryMaker Thomas J. Burrell], who's the leader of this organization that is in Chicago [Illinois]--most of advertising is in New York [New York] but Burrell is here in Chicago and he's quite a force. So you're a young woman working at this agency. Did you interface with them and what was your relationship like working with this powerhouse?$$It was great. I mean again my background--I come from a black family that was--I had a lot of exposure to black people that had a lot of power whether they were ministers or whatever. So it was--I was accustomed to that but Tom was great, he knew everyone and everyone knew him. At that time I think when I started at the agency maybe there were fifty people so I wasn't in the beginning but I was close to the beginning. There were some unique things that happened in those days. One of the things that happened was there was such a sense of camaraderie. And we had these talent shows. So I was there the year that the talent show started and I told you that I sew and I made my own--at that point I was making my own clothes. So I entered the talent show just like everyone else. It wasn't, it wasn't a big deal it was just fun you know do what you can do. We had it at [HistoryMaker] Howard Simmons' studio on Chicago Avenue. So my talent was the fact that I made my clothes so I found other women in the agency that were about my size and I put on a fashion show. So we're in the back, you know, drinking and eating and they're announcing the winner and somebody said well, "You've won," and I was like--I just kept eating and drinking, and they said, "No you won." So I won the first Burrell [Burrell Advertising Agency; Burrell Communications Group, Chicago, Illinois] talent show with my fashion show clothes that I had made. So that was something that--so Tom of course was giving the award so that happened. But again it was such a small environment and he was present all the time so I knew him just like other people.