Transforming Advertising

AS PRESIDENT OF THE T BRAND portfolio—the marketing services division of The New York Times—Amber Guild ’95 helps brands engage with audiences in effective and innovative ways. Guild joined The Times in late 2017 after spending over two decades at leading advertising agencies including Ogilvy & Mather, Saatchi & Saatchi, The Martin Agency, and more.

Working in advertising was not something Guild originally envisioned when she thought about her career. A psychology major and women’s studies minor at Boston University, Guild was set on working either as a psychologist or in the nonprofit sector.

“My career goals changed one college summer when I worked as a secretary at an ad agency,” Guild says. “I was doing it to make some extra cash—I needed money and always worked throughout my Taft and college years—and I ended up falling in love with the world of advertising. I thought it was such a cool intersection of writers, artists, and businesspeople, all collaborating in this extremely influential way.”

What Guild also observed about the industry—and what she found quite glaring—was the lack of people of color, especially women, in roles other than secretarial.

“This really stood out to me,” Guild recalls. “Also, advertising in general felt like it never really accurately reflected my family or my experience [as a person of color]. It felt biased; there was a notable disconnect. I decided I needed to become a part of this world, to help create change from the inside.”

Guild continued to work and intern at agencies throughout the rest of college, and after graduation began her career on the account management side of the business.

“I worked at a number of agencies,” Guild says. “I wanted to make sure I was always in an environment that was continually transforming how they reached their audiences, especially with the rapid growth of technology and social media.”

Amber Guild ’95 on the stage accepting Ad Age’s Women to Watch Award.

Amber Guild ’95 on the stage accepting Ad Age’s Women to Watch Award.

Guild’s hard work paid off. In 2016 she was named one of Ad Age’s Women to Watch. A year or so later, a friend connected Guild to The New York Times, which was looking for someone with strong agency experience to lead T Brand, its branded content studio—a studio that produces material more editorial in nature than traditional advertising. The timing was perfect for Guild.

“Think of T Brand as the creative agency arm of The New York Times,” she explains. “And underneath that is T Brand Studio, our branded content studio, and Fake Love, our experience agency. We have offices around the world.”

T Brand’s primary objective is to help brands tell their most powerful stories while connecting them to The Times’ vast and devoted audience. It partners with clients across every industry, delivering branded content, which is content funded by the advertiser. This can exist in a wide variety of forms—videos, social media, short-form narratives, influencers, experiences, and more—which goes to show how drastically the world of marketing and advertising has changed in recent years.

And Guild has done tons to evolve T Brand in her two years as president, keeping the company well ahead of the curve when it comes to the industry’s fast-changing landscape. Particularly noteworthy is her creation of a more cohesive work environment.

“When I started, the advertising department was organized in silos—we needed to move to a more agile and collaborative way of working,” Guild explains. “I’ve worked hard to integrate the different silos, and the result has been amazing. When you have writers, journalists, and strategists all working together, the outcome is very powerful for clients.”

And the outcome has been incredible for Guild, as well. “I’ve never felt so fulfilled in my career,” she shares. “Every day I walk into The New York Times and feel so proud to be a part of a company whose mission is to seek the truth, and who does so in such a meaningful and respectful way.”

Guild, who lives in Ridgewood, New Jersey, with her husband and two children, remains in close touch with her Taft friends. “There are eight of us who take a girls’ trip together every year,” she shares. “Despite the constant demands of work, kids, and life, we make an annual long weekend happen. Friendship is so important.”

Guild is glad to report things are moving in the right direction with more representation from women and people of color. She serves on the board of the 3% Conference, an organization founded because only three percent of creative directors were women or people of color. This year, that number has jumped to 29 percent—proof that things are, finally, changing.

—Carola Lovering Crane ’07