Jesse Savin – Contributor

“Transactional people need not apply.” That’s the first thing you have to know if you want to do business with Roy Broderick Jr. 

Roy refuses to mortgage his creative and moral value against companies who would contract him and his agency, Authentique, based on perceived market shares or trend forecasting. Brands have shown an almost sweaty interest in Diversity since the slayings by police of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. If you think a deluge of possible new work, armed with the promise of delivering a black perspective would test Roy’s resolve, you’re wrong. In a scenario I’m sure he didn’t imagine on the spot, he showed me how that meeting would end. “Your board is all white…so no.” 

Roy is a deft hand at sniffing out performative or potentially insidious offers. He installed a three pillar system as the sacrosanct policy for Authentique when he opened the agency’s doors. Culture. Community. Purpose. He reflexively looks to those core tenets whenever he considers taking on new business, and makes sure they are applied without lip service to any work his agency does. 

He found himself asking “What’s the joy in this?”

Roy had a long road to Authentique that allowed him to truly drill down on the hills he would die on, and what he wanted to represent with his career. Coming out of the University of Florida with a major in communications, he found himself working for the Turner broadcasting company, working on accounts for television shows like Southland and Dallas, and, in his words, falling in love with “key moments in time.” Agency work seemed like the next logical step, given that Roy could harness those moments on a cyclical basis, and with encouragement from his mentor, he ended up taking a foothold in the field at CSE, working with clients like Coca-Cola and AT&T. But Roy’s journey took a detour with a stint at Allstate. Despite the slightly severe swerve in his trajectory, he found some freedom and ability to innovate with direct communication with his clients, developing actionable insights and figuring out what they wanted and what he could give them to set him apart. However, he still found himself stuck “in a box” at Allstate, unable to feed his vision and, to a larger extent, soul. He found himself asking “What’s the joy in this?” He was stifled – understandable, as he is ultimately a creator. So he took a self-described “big leap.” 

And just like that, Authentique appeared on the scene. If it seemed that way to the advertising world, Roy had been building up to opening his own shop since he began his career, and his status as an advertising chief was no surprise to the fixtures of Atlanta advertising. After all, Roy launched Authentique with an effusive cosign from Black Enterprise Magazine that would become an ironclad premonition for his success six years down the road, marked by a concerted effort to remain small but still rapidly scaling to a team of 32. In the beginning, Roy’s M.O. was to “get in where we fit in.” Authentique moved their way up from smaller gigs, acting as a supporting agency specializing in social media, to opportunities with larger corporations. And if “getting in” where they fit seems antithetical to holding up hard and fast pillars for partners, Roy had a plan. He described a hypothetical situation wherein pursuit of a Nike account would prove fruitless, “I’ll go to Adidias first and prove I could do it.” The point being, Roy was happy to take his singular vision and moral guidelines to companies that would have him without compromise, and allow him to take the wheel of his agency’s reputation in the process. Before reconnecting with his old client Coca-Cola, Roy had no issue proving his bona fides with Pepsi and trusting that it would pay off down the road with Coke. 

Authentique was not just representing black initiatives as a black agency, they were telling authentic stories, and representing who they were without compromise in each of their projects.”

It will sound familiar to basketball fans, but “trusting the process” was ingrained in Roy’s ethos from the start. We spoke extensively about the idea of betting on one’s self when the powers that be were lagging behind in accepting a new voice to come to the fore. But Roy held fast. Whereas in the early years of Authentique, he described having to “tell them why” his values and vision were the absolute right way to go. In his words, a company’s need for diverse and representational stories were “not real until they have to take the chance.” But he would pounce where he saw openings. Authentique has succeeded not in spite of, but on the wings of Roy’s declaration that “visibility is a requirement.” Upholding the three core commandments of Authentique has resulted in work Roy and his team are proud of, making them the obvious choice as AOR for the launch of The National Museum of African American Music. Authentique was not just representing black initiatives as a black agency, they were telling authentic stories, and representing who they were without compromise in each of their projects. “The world is tanning,” Roy notes. He acknowledges that many companies – he wagers as little as a tossed off 7% – are truly ready to see that minority groups are not monoliths, and that they have a plethora of stories to be told, for different groups in different regions and different mindsets. But in that gap stands Authentique – not taking table scraps, but succeeding wildly at the “intersection of identity.” 

He’s a vibrant, gregarious and deeply friendly figure.”

Roy is front and center if you were to take a visit to Authentique’s website, and for good reason. He’s a vibrant, gregarious and deeply friendly figure. His status in the industry was not guaranteed, but his hard work came with an equal charisma, as a proud member of the LGBTQIA+ community and black creator who would truly own his place in the industry. And while Roy is an obvious team captain, he notes that he is deeply proud of the team he’s built, comprised of members he is happy to let own projects and credit for some of Authentique’s best work. Trusting your colleagues is part of trusting the process, after all. And his advice to young creators who want to follow in his footsteps is of a similar vein. “Test your process.” He urges up and comers to “get from behind your desk” and to “be okay saying no.” Roy earned his ability to leave the daily grind to trusted team members while he ponders his next steps (a ten year plan that involves becoming a seed investor and helping others get their start) and jams out to Tina Turner and John Coltrane at home with his dog. Again, it’s a potentially fraught crossroads. But Roy’s story should provide comfort that sticking to your guns and honoring what you believe matters is a path to both success and personal pride.