Adweek reported Tom Burrell became the one Black in The One Club Creative Hall of Fame. Kudos to Burrell, but surely there are other worthy Blacks—including Georg Olden, Roy Eaton and Harry Webber—who also deserve recognition in the exclusive club.
Tom Burrell Becomes First African-American Inducted Into One Club Creative Hall of Fame
He founded Burrell Communications Group in 1971
By Erik Oster
Burrell Communications Group founder Tom Burrell, who has been breaking barriers his entire career, has added yet another one to the list.
The One Club inducted Burrell into its Creative Hall of Fame, making him the first African-American to receive the honor, which dates back to Leo Burnett’s inaugural induction in 1961. Burrell was inducted into the American Advertising Federation Hall of Fame back in 2004.
A pioneer in recognizing and celebrating the purchasing power of the African-American community, Burrell coined the phrase “Black people are not dark-skinned white people.” His advertisements for Coca-Cola are archived at the Library of Congress, recognized for their cultural and historical significance.
Tom Burrell began his career in the mailroom at Wade Advertising while still at Roosevelt University. The agency’s first black employee, he soon earned himself a junior copywriting position, working on the agency’s Alka-Seltzer and Robin Hood All-Purpose Flour accounts, according to the Advertising Hall of Fame. He went on to work at several agencies, including Leo Burnett and FCB, before founding Burrell Communications Group in 1971.
He retired in 2004 and currently serves as chairman emeritus for the agency, which is now led by co-CEOs Fay Ferguson and McGhee Williams Osse and CCO Lewis Williams. Burrell Communications Group currently counts McDonald’s, P&G, Comcast, Walmart, Toyota Motor Sales Inc., AARP and Hilton among its client roster.
In addition to his work in advertising, Burrell is the author of Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority and founded nonprofit The Resolution Project to “challenge and reverse ongoing mass media stereotypes and negative race-based conditioning.”