Forty Under 40: Business
BY Advocate.com Editors
May 05 2009 11:00 PM ET
Chris Allen | Ad executive | 36 | Chicago
Chris Allen would astound the gray flannel-suited protagonists of Mad Men. Not only has he been openly gay throughout his successful advertising career, Allen's now helping companies showcase their products on media only dreamt of in the 1960s, including online and mobile video. Allen joined Chicago-based Starcom USA -- whose clients include Allstate, Bank of America, and Walgreens -- in 2007 as vice president and director of video innovation. Before that he spent 12-plus years with another ad firm, GSD&M. Being out has been an asset, he says, in that "people see me as being very sincere in my approach to business. They see that I'm trustworthy and not holding anything back." The Texas native also says, "The advertising industry is one that encourages diversity. People see me as someone who has a unique perspective." It's clear that Starcom in particular encourages diversity; for the past three years its parent company, Starcom MediaVest Group, has been the only advertising and marketing firm with a perfect score -- 100 -- on the Human Rights Campaign's Corporate Equality Index.