Celebrating AAPI Heritage Month: Blitz.gg’s Eddie Lee on Breaking Stereotypes and Championing DEI

In honor of AAPI Heritage Month, AdMonsters spoke with Eddie Lee, VP of revenue operations at Blitz.gg, about the diversity of the digital advertising and gaming industries and how breaking away from stereotypes is the right path forward. 

Like many of us in the industry, Eddie Lee, VP of revenue operations at Blitz.gg, didn’t study digital publishing in college. An Asian American friend working at an ad agency introduced him to the industry, and they told him the sector offered tremendous potential for growth and learning. Acting on his friend’s advice, Lee landed a job at one of the largest ad agencies in the world, officially launching his career in the digital ad-tech space. 

In February 2023, he joined Blitz, an Asian American-owned company that provides insights and learning tools to online gamers of all skill levels to hone their skills and enjoy their game time more. Like the gaming community, the Blitz audience is highly diverse, and success means breaking free of stereotypes. As part of our celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, AdMonsters spoke with Eddie Lee about the stereotypes he faced and why he loves digital advertising.

Susie Stulz: As a company in the gaming industry, do you encounter many stereotypes about gamers?

Eddie Lee: Generally, there are many stereotypes about gamers. People think gamers are young and male, but they cross every age range, gender, and ethnicity. Everybody games and gamers are highly diverse, which is why Blitz has spent a lot of time and energy developing and speaking directly to the diversity within our audience.

Even within the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities, we see a tremendous amount of diversity. AAPI includes people from East Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Indian subcontinent. 

That diversity furthers based on how long people have been here. For instance, I’m a second-generation Korean American, which means I have different perspectives from someone who has immigrated here as an adult. I grew up attending American schools and went to an American college, which exposed me to many different topics and career options. AAPI people want to enter all sorts of careers, from advertising and teaching to arts and engineering.

One of the biggest stereotypes AAPI people contend with is the assumption that we all want to be doctors or engineers. I remember starting a business development role at a company and someone telling me that the engineering department was on the other side of the floor.

SS: How did that make you feel?

EL: It made me more determined to chart my own course. Also, it’s important to remember that Asian Americans aren’t the only ones who are being pigeonholed like that. Many communities face assumptions about their work and employment.

That said, I think all hiring managers need to realize that Asian Americans are applying for all kinds of jobs now, including the revenue development side of digital advertising. If you assume that all Asians are engineers, you’ll miss the opportunity to hire great people for other roles.

SS: What makes you feel at home in the digital advertising space? 

EL: First, digital ad tech is one of the more diverse industries today, and that diversity is growing, so there is room and opportunities for people of different backgrounds. My current company is Asian-American owned, and many of the people I work with both inside and outside my company are AAPI.

The other thing is that, again, our industry and our audience are very diverse. So, it’s equally rewarding to work with and connect with people who don’t look like me. If you value diversity as much as I do, it’s a real selling point for the industry.

SS: To put a slightly different spin on it, are you saying that hiring managers who recruit from a diverse candidate pool will tap into a bigger talent pool?

EL: Yes, and many people will say that but don’t really act on it. A diverse employee base, with people of different backgrounds, ages, and lengths of time here in America, will create a scenario where everyone can feel comfortable applying for jobs and feeling empowered to succeed.

Part of making people feel comfortable is to allow them to voice their opinions and make recommendations that will fuel the velocity for higher performance within the company.

I receive many queries from AAPI college graduates considering their first jobs. They find me on LinkedIn and want to know how to get started. I always carve out time to talk to them and try my best to provide directional advice or connect them with companies that can be a good fit.

The digital advertising sector fuels the free internet in terms of content, especially gaming. It’s one of the most important ways that brands can connect to consumers, which makes diversity within the sector so important.

SS: What are some opportunities for brands to embrace the diversity of the Asian American and Pacific American communities?

EL: So first, according to the 2020 Census, 6.2% of the US population, or 20.6 million people, identify as Asian, Native Hawaiian, or Other Pacific Islander alone. And according to Nielsen, this community has a combined purchasing power of $1.6 trillion this year. That’s a growth of 314% from 2000 to 2019.

When we talk about diverse communities, I think one of the most important storylines is how we’ve uplifted one another. Everyone wins when all communities are recognized and celebrated.

Over the past few years, we’ve seen a rise in Asian hate and a corresponding Stop AAPI Hate movement, and I think that by supporting the community and AAPI-owned publishers, brands can uplift themselves as well as the AAPI communities.