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Who is Shawn Thompson? Shawn Thompson, manager of multicultural marketing for the Ford Motor Co., is among the 2013 Marketing to African Americans with Excellent (MAAX) Award Recipients. On Friday, Nov. 22, Shawn Thompson will receive the Marketing Executive of the Year prize, an honor bestowed upon as per the recommendations of editors and writers at Target Market News and previous MAAX winners. Shawn Thompson will accept the award during a luncheon at the 14th Annual MAAX Summit, held by Target Market News at the Hyatt Magnificent Mile Hotel in Chicago.

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Who is Shawn Thompson, and why is she winning this prestigious MAAX award? Born in Louisiana, she grew up on the east side of Detroit and attended Osborn High School. Before landing at the Ford Motor Co., she worked at Detroit’s Fox Theatre and still remembers “the excitement surrounding this big event,” as she told Uptown Pro Mag. Thompson is a firm believer in her city, and as she thinks back to her childhood and going to see Santa Claus at J.L. Hudson’s, she dreams of ways her troubled hometown can pull itself up by its bootstraps and regain its former glory. “Every major city has a vibrant downtown area and I believe it’s what Detroit needs,” she says. “The city has gone through some very tough times but its future is bright.”

But who is Shawn Thompson, other than a Motor City booster? Ford’s manager of multicultural marketing believes “multicultural campaigns are necessary because the diversity in today’s marketplace requires messages that can break through to and resonate with the target audience.” As Ken Smikle, president of Target Market News, says in a press release, African American consumers account for more than one trillion dollars each year, and Shawn Thompson—like her six fellow nominees—is among the best at reaching this demographic. Shawn Thompson is especially proud of the recently launched 2013 Ford Escape campaign, as she’s placed the focus on style, fuel economy, and value. “We work to deliver the message by showing how key features like the hands-free power liftgate, active park assist and the EcoBoost® engine can introduce African American consumers to life experiences and new adventures,” she says.

Shawn Thompson credits Ford with giving back to the local community, and she says the Rev. Al Sharpton has recently inspired her to “step up my community involvement.” Another inspiration: Spider-Man. Thompson has a six-year-old adopted son who’s fond of the comic, and she says the message “with great power comes great responsibility”—a central idea of the popular Marvel series—is an important one. “I see my role as the multicultural marketing manager as having the responsibility to educate management on the importance of connecting with my community and never forgetting the power of the African American consumer,” she says.

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According to a press release, the annual MAAX Awards ceremony “recognizes the contributions, innovations and exceptional performance of African American professionals in the fields of marketing, advertising, media, public relations and consumer research.”

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