When the advertising industry's oldest trade association, the American Advertising Federation, honors the next crop of industry professionals under the age of 40, it will likely be the first time Hip Hop culture is represented. Steve Stoute will be one of the annual honorees for the AAF's Hall of Achievement ceremony on Nov. 18.
The former executive made a name for himself as a manager for artists such as Kid 'N' Play and, most notably, Nas. In 1991 his association with the latter was punctuated with an infamous run-in with Sean "Diddy" Combs, which saw Stoute get beaten with a champagne bottle. Stoute later parlayed his business savvy and knowledge of Hip Hop culture into positions with Sony and Interscope Records. The change from the music world to the business sector became complete earlier this year when Stoute and Jay-Z combined to form Translation Advertising.
"I really am a novice," Stoute says of his career in the advertising world. He tells Adweek that his inclusion in the Hall of Achievement took him by surprise. One of Translation's latest projects, Chris Brown's single "Forever," which also doubles as a chewing gum advertisement, was nominated as MTV Video Music Awards' Video of the Year. Some of Stoute's previous works include Reebok campaigns with Jadakiss, Allen Iverson, Jay-Z, as well as pairing Justin Timberlake with McDonald's.
"The advertising business is saying, 'Steve, we're accepting you,'" Stoute adds. "And I never knocked on the door. I just put out work...It makes me feel good. It makes me feel like we're building a strong agency here."
Previous members of the AAF Hall of Achievement include William Wrigley Jr. (Wrigley Jr. Co.) and Earl G. Graves Jr. (Black Enterprise Magazine).