A Peek Inside Her Agenda: Cieja Springer

Executive Director, Marketing & Media


Jun. 10 2024, Published 7:00 a.m. ET

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Cieja Springer
"...keep being who you are and showing up as yourself, and don't let anybody put their own limitations on you."Quotation marks
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Solving problems through imagination is Cieja’s rule of thumb for creating experiences that connect brands with everyday people. Currently, Cieja manages media strategy at Essence as the Executive Director of Marketing & Media. A true wordsmith, Cieja always had a knack for words, working on campaign projects and media strategies for top brands such as L’Oreal USA/Paris, Maserati, P&G, Coca-Cola, and Estée Lauder, to name a few. A Director, a podcast host, and a fellow fashionista, Cieja draws inspiration from her Harlem roots to fully show up as herself in all facets of her life. Not believing in the idea of being a monolith, she embraces being a jack of multiple trades.

Outside of work, she currently mentors the next generation of young media professionals through Black Girls In Media, a networking organization for Black media professionals who push others to define their own paths. Her Agenda chatted with Cieja to learn more about her journey in marketing and her process for bringing culture and people together through language. 

Her Agenda: What is something most people don’t realize about the work you do?

Cieja Springer: How nuanced this work is. People who work in marketing, advertising, and the media space tend to approach any of those lines of business from the perspective of what they do. Leaving out the breadth of what is done, where and what the capabilities are within the scope of the industry holistically. It’s not a one-size-fits-all industry.

I started out as a media planner. That is my training, the grounds and the foundation upon which my skill set was built. Although I worked in the advertising industry I managed the money. I had clients like Kraft and The Coca-Cola Company that had budgets of 100 million in advertising and media to spend. I determined where and how that money was spent. It’s an automatic assumption that I only work on advertising campaigns, product launches, or brand redesigns. Although these are a part of what the scope of work entails, there are many different avenues of marketing, advertising or media. How you show up in this space funnels into a much larger umbrella.

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Her Agenda: ‘I solve problems through imagination’ is in bolded letters on your website. How have you utilized your imagination to navigate your career?

Cieja Springer: I’m a lover of words, that is where my imagination goes. First step, I think about different words,  how I want something said, how I want to feel, and then I try to incorporate that feeling into what I do day to day.

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Last year, I was working on promotions for the Essence Festival of Culture. Typically promotional elements consist of who was coming, what experiences you were going to engage with, where you will eat and stay. I felt we were lacking personal touch, the emotive engagement with our consumer, so in my head, I thought ‘What would it be like if we spoke to our consumers in their daily vernacular language?’  I created what I called the local jargon assets. They were for various regions around the country where we have heavy attendance for the Essence Festival of Culture. Those assets from a paid social perspective ended up performing better in some instances, than assets that were talking about the festival itself. 

Her Agenda: How have your Harlem roots and passion for personal style influenced your ability to show up authentically in professional corporate spaces?

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Cieja Springer: Growing up in a place like Harlem gave me more than only being able to have an identity. It’s who I am and how I show up in the world. How I want people to receive me and being unapologetic about that. I was able to grow up where I could walk the same grounds that Langston Hughes and Madam CJ Walker walked. I honor that in my ability to stand 10 toes down on everything that I do and be firm in who I am. There is a confidence that comes with this. It’s less about how I bring fashion and style, and more about how I execute in my daily life, knowing that I stand on the shoulders of giants at all times. Harlem is not just a place that we live in, but it lives within us too.

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Her Agenda: As an experienced brand strategist, if you had to describe yourself as a brand, what would it be and why?

Cieja Springer: Loewe – it’s a sneaky fly brand that is quiet in the sense that you don’t necessarily know when someone has it on. The growth in my career was similar to the quiet nature of the brand where my success did not happen right away. It was nondescript. I have always held my head up high and spoken my mind however I don’t let people know right away what I am capable of. I pique curiosity through my work in a similar way to how Loewe piques the interest of its audience. It is done in a tasteful way that leaves people asking the who, what, where and why of the brand. 

Her Agenda: As someone who hosts their own podcast, how do you see the role of content creation and storytelling in building and sustaining brand identities in today’s digital age?

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Cieja Springer: When thinking about building and sustaining a brand identity It’s important for you to have a story and for you to build on that story and be consistent. What I think is more important is that your story is authentic, and it resonates with who you are. My podcast right now is dormant. However, that’s intentional because I always want what I’m doing to be a true reflection of myself. Right now, I don’t have a story to tell. I’m going through some shedding. I think where people go wrong with their content is yes, while there is a need for you to always be on in the world in which we live, there’s also a need for you to sometimes reset and get your foundation back in order.

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Her Agenda: Having an MBA from NYU Stern and a background from Howard University, how has your educational experience shaped your approach to brand strategy and marketing?

Cieja Springer: My education was the approach to brand strategy and marketing.I have a degree in advertising from Howard University. I was intentional. I’ve learned a great deal about how to integrate myself into the marketing space and how to show up in a certain way to get the most out of each educational experience. 

When I got to Howard, I wanted to pursue a print major. However, my dad was against it and advised me to choose another career. I understood his perspective, even though I didn’t agree with it but I also was tired of arguing with him about it. So I changed my major. I went into the career services office and asked what else can I do that will allow me to write and from that moment forward was the start of my marketing career. My training started right there at Howard University. The Howard community further edifies me as a professional within this space pushing me to be confident and authentic, to who I am. It was another reminder of the messaging and clay molding that my parents had already given me. 

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Her Agenda: What is next for Cieja? 

Cieja Springer: I’m still trying to figure that out. I think what’s in store for my future is for me to remain open minded, for me to remain flexible. To continue to dream about whatever it is that I am looking to accomplish. In terms of what those tactical specific things are, I definitely want to get back to posting my show. I’m hoping that it can become even bigger than it was. I consider myself a creator. 

What that means for me is whatever I’ve devised in my brain, that I feel I want to try, I make it happen. I definitely am a proud jack of multiple trades because I don’t find myself to have limits. God is limitless and so am I. Yes, there is a reality around focusing and narrowing in so you can complete a task but one should not limit themselves. Everyone is capable of doing different things even if they are things in different arenas. It doesn’t make you any less sure or certain of yourself, keep being who you are and showing up as yourself, and don’t let anybody put their own limitations on you.

[Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.]

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By: Tia Quashie

Tia Quashie is driven by her passion for inclusion and community engagement. Currently, utilizing these skills supporting new hire onboarding at Affirm on the Learning and Development Team. A recent graduate of Howard University, earning her B.A. in Strategic Legal Management Communication, she served as a participant for the Spotify HBCU Student Conference and is an inaugural member of Femme it Forward, a mentorship program for women of color navigating the technology, music, and entertainment industries. To date, Tia serves as a contributing writer for HerAgenda and spends her free time paying it forward by helping other female professionals navigate employment in the tech industry.

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