Ladybrille’s 15 Questions With . . . Chasson Gracie, Ten Time African-American Marketing Award Winner

“Ladybrille’s 15 Questions with . . .” is a feature that salutes some of the most important names in the fashion and entertainment industries around the globe, with a particular emphasis on Africa. We hope you are as inspired as we are with the brilliant men and women in these industries that make the world go round. If you would like to be considered for a feature, please email ([email protected]). 

“When a business’s sales start to lack, the finger often gets pointed at advertising and marketing. There’s a target audience in mind, and thousands of dollars are shelled out to reach the intended demographic, but what if the target missed its mark?

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a formula for success? Well in the music industry, an entertainment sector that has seen it’s share of hard times in the past decade, there is Mr. Chasson Gracie, Founder and CEO of Gracie Management (also head of Strategic Planning for the New York office of Dieste, the only three-time Ad Age Multicultural Ad Agency of the Year). Gracie combines strategic planning with statistical modeling for musicians to identify their audience, learn how they consume music, and grow their influence.

Gracie first found success with statistical modeling while leading the 2010 Census Campaign. His strategy and research helped steer the campaign to become one of the most successful campaigns of 2010, reaching a participation rate of 74% (goal was 67%) and saving the government $1.9 billion.

As an African-American professional and 10-time marketing award-winner, his proven statistical modeling is now available to musicians, record companies and artist managers to leverage data for smarter campaigns, promotions and platforms, leading artists to the next level of their career. Gracie Management’s unique method brings a science to a field that has long survived on gut decisions, which in many cases has damaged careers. It’s a much needed revolutionary approach to the music industry. Gracie as been working with musicians on a international level, he has also lent his methodology and expertise to Universal Music Group.”

LADYBRILLEmag.com: Tell us a little about your background?

Chasson Gracie: I was born in the United States to two Jamaican immigrants – my mother did grow up in England though, while my father came to the US directly from Jamaica. We believe we have some East African blood, Somalia/Ethiopia. I was born in Brooklyn but grew up in the suburbs of New York City. I have a Bachelor’s in History from Brooklyn College and a Master’s in Urban Policy and Analysis from the New School, with a concentration in Quantitative Methods. Based upon all of these influences, I consider myself a cultural anthropologist and navigator!

LADYBRILLEmag.com: Describe your career. What exactly do you do?
Chasson Gracie: I am the Director of Strategic Planning at Dieste, a multicultural advertising agency, and my clients include Nissan, Infiniti, Don Julio and Southwest Airlines. In addition, I am the Founder and CEO of Gracie Management, what is considered by some as a revolutionary music marketing firm bringing science into the art of artist branding.

LADYBRILLEmag.com: How did you end up in your chosen field?
Chasson Gracie: It was actually by accident. I studied for my Master’s in Urban Policy, and I thought I was on my way to a political job, and then I saw an ad for a position that combined sociology, psychology and statistics, and the rest is history. (Laughs)

LADYBRILLEmag.com: How do you balance the demands of your career with the demands in your personal life?
Chasson Gracie: It certainly gets tricky; there is no doubt about that! I do make a conscious effort to balance, and playing sports and exercising does help.

LADYBRILLEmag.com: What has been the most difficult challenge you have faced in getting to where you are?
Chasson Gracie: I would say a resistance to a different way of doing things from some people in both industries I deal with – marketing communications and music. I tend to have an unconventional approach at times to strategic planning, but I think the success I have had has proven me out, and there is a very little resistance these days.

LADYBRILLEmag.com: (Speaking of success), how do you define success?
Chasson Gracie: I define success as bringing some tangible benefit to my clients, which in turn has a positive and measurable impact on their business.

LADYBRILLEmag.com: What is the one thing you wish most people knew about you?
Chasson Gracie: I love Fleetwood Mac!(British-American rock band) For a host of reasons, people get confused or surprised when they first discover this, so it would be nice to have it all out in the open.

LADYBRILLEmag.com: Share with us your memory of the happiest moment in your life?
Chasson Gracie: I am not sure if it is the happiest, but certainly one of them – attending my first concert when I was around 10 years-old, and clearly being the youngest person in attendance. What made it even funnier was that the bands were outside of the American mainstream, so it definitely confused people at the show but in a good way.

LADYBRILLEmag.com: What keeps you awake at night?
Chasson Gracie: It may sound trite, but the honest answer would be failure. I feel I have a duty to reach even greater heights than my parents did.

LADYBRILLEmag.com: What drives you?
Chasson Gracie: In one word, I would say – curiosity. There are other things I could say in addition, but at the root of probably most, if not all of it, would be a genuine curiosity I have – curiosity about the world and curiosity to be able to explain things.

LADYBRILLEmag.com: What makes you get up everyday to do what you do all over again?
Chasson Gracie: I am always looking to improve on previous successes, and I believe that is what makes it really easy for me to get up everyday.

LADYBRILLEmag.com: What are the daily principles you live by?
Chasson Gracie: I divide my goals into four quadrants, and I make a serious attempt to expand upon each one each day. The more I grow each, the better I become as a person, as a marketer, as a partner, etc.

LADYBRILLEmag.com: What inspires you?
Chasson Gracie: It goes back to curiosity, which we were speaking about earlier. But I will now take it a step further and say solving a problem that is presented and that curiosity to figure out the cause of the problem, and then come up with an effective solution.

LADYBRILLEmag.com: When all is said and done, what do you want to be remembered most for?
Chasson Gracie: I want to be remembered as someone who challenged conventions in the worlds of marketing communications and entertainment and brought new thinking to table, hence helping to produce better work.

LADYBRILLEmag.com: What is the best piece of advice you ever received?
Chasson Gracie: There are two – one is to not take it personally, for example, in the work environment, if someone disagrees with you, never take it as a personal attack on yourself as that just leads to truly bad consequences. The other is to remember to always speak up, as in the business I am in people are paying to hear my thoughts – all of them. (laugh)

LADYBRILLEmag.com: What do you do to relax and reward yourself for all of your hard work?
Chasson Gracie: Well, believe it or not, I love to come home and watch the news, especially political news. That might not be relaxing to many, but it is for me. I also love to just sit back with a good glass of wine or good quality tequila and listen to a great piece of music.

-Photo Credit: Liz Paula

Ladybrille Magazine

Founded in 2007, Ladybrille® Magazine is a California based pioneer digital publication demystifying the image of Africans in the west through contemporary African fashion and celebrating the brilliant woman in business and leadership, with an emphasis on the African woman in the diaspora. Our coverage includes stories on capital, access to markets, expertise, hiring and retention, sales, marketing, and promotions.

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