ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Seeds of an idea are planted and Michael Jackson waits patiently as they cultivate.
To say Jackson is an idea man is an understatement.
Not only are the ideas there, Jackson knows exactly how to bring it to life.
“I want to create a platform where diverse creatives come together to create dope (things),” Jackson says. “There are a lot of minority creatives out there and I want to create a well-rounded agency that gets the job done.”
Jackson was awarded a New Mexico ADDY award for a marketing video for New Mexico Highlands University. He also picked up a Telly Award for the video.
A 2010 NMHU media arts and marketing alum, Jackson co-founded Mya Kai Creative in 2014 in San Diego.
He is now the sole owner of the agency, which has grown to a team of 11 employees. The agency’s headquarters is in Phoenix, with offices in Albuquerque and San Diego. Jackson splits his time between Phoenix and Albuquerque.
Mya Kai Creative is the only African American-owned creative agency in Arizona and New Mexico.
“This fact gives me pride and also an obligation to introduce minorities to the creative world,” Jackson says.
For the video, “Together We Are One,” Jackson drew on personal experiences when he was a student-athlete at Highlands.
The video was also the university’s first ever marketing award.
“I took a hands-on approach to the message,” he says. “I went to school there and there are a lot of things that I wanted to highlight. Being a student there, I had a personal connection to it all.”
Jackson took a step back and thought about how he would showcase the university to a younger demographic.
“I really wanted to show how diverse the university is,” he says. “You can get a really good education from a small university. That’s one of the things I really wanted to show people with the video.”
In six years, Mya Kai Creative has also diversified its client list – doing work for Facebook, SoftBank Investment Advisers, Brand Jordan, the NBA Charlotte Hornets and JW Marriott.
Jackson says he’s working on developing a relationship with the city of Albuquerque.
“We work with the Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce where we do the graphics,” he says. “Cuidando Los Niños, we’re working on a whole brand with them to engage the community. With Facebook, we create motion graphics and different elements to use on their platforms.”
Going back to Highlands for the shoot, gave Jackson the opportunity to work with his mentor Sean Weaver.
Weaver originally approached Jackson for the video.
When Jackson was a student, he was a work-study graphic designer for Weaver.
“I owe Sean everything. He was a mentor who really believed in me. Sean taught me to always improve and find answers,” Jackson says in a statement.
Weaver was impressed with Jackson and his team.
“Michael and his team listened to what we wanted to achieve and thoughtfully considered how we can translate what makes Highlands meaningful into a compelling video,” Weaver says in a statement.
Highlands is using the spot on broadcast TV, as well as streaming services and social media.
Weaver said he was certainly glad to be part of Jackson’s journey, but what he admires most about Jackson is his generosity in sharing his success with current students.
“If there’s one thing I hope students carry with them long after graduation is the best way to thank a mentor is to be a mentor regardless of where you are in your career,” Weaver says.
Jackson said the Telly Award is not the first award his agency has received but is the highest.
“The Silver Telly definitely motivates us to do more and to continue on our path for the ultimate creative award, a Cannes Lion,” Jackson says.
The international Telly Awards were founded in 1979 to honor excellence in television commercials and videos. The New Mexico ADDY awards are hosted by the American Advertising Federation of New Mexico.
In his spare time, Jackson volunteers for the Phoenix Suns.
“This volunteer work provides an opportunity to give back to the underserved children of Phoenix,” Jackson says.