Ad Agency Campaign Celebrates 50 Years of Black Storytelling

Cyndi Loza
Associate Editor, Path to Purchase Institute
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Chicago-based multicultural advertising agency Burrell Communications Group is honoring its golden anniversary by launching a new community engagement initiative that pays tribute to 50 years of connecting some of the world's most powerful brands with Black communities.

As part of its "50 Acts of Kindness" initiative, the agency will first make a surprise donation to Primo Center, which provides family shelter, permanent supportive housing, and other services to homeless families in south- and west-side neighborhoods of Chicago, including North Lawndale, Englewood, and Auburn Gresham. In addition to Primo Center, Burrell will execute "acts of kindness" to support stakeholder groups focused on empowering the underserved such as 100 Black Men and My Block, My Hood, My City, as well as faith-based organizations, local food banks, and others who provide much-needed resources to communities.

The agency was founded in 1971 by marketing maestro Tom Burrell, who sought to develop a relevant, respectful, and strong relationship between brands and Black consumers. Burrell coined the phrase, "Black people are not dark-skinned white people," as he championed the inherent cultural differences that occur when marketing to Black consumers, according to a Burrell media release. 

In 2004, long-time "Burrellites" Fay Ferguson and McGhee Williams Osse orchestrated a management buyout of the agency. Now the co-CEOs oversee the curation of targeted creative and integrated marketing communications strategies for major brands such as McDonald's U.S.A., Procter & Gamble, Toyota Motor North America, Comcast, Coca-Cola Co. and Walmart.

"It is a privilege to be at the helm of a Black- and women-owned business," said Ferguson in the release. "As we reflect upon the past 50 years, we recognize the much needed and continued significance of supporting and servicing the Black community which our work represents."

"During Black History Month, we celebrate the best of Black innovators and leaders," said Osse. "In doing so, we honor and salute the legacy and work of Tom Burrell, a true pioneer."