African Americans and Madison Avenue share a complex and often contentious history. As The Root's article "The Other Mad Men" showed, Madison Avenue was not as lily white as the popular cable-TV show implies. A small number of blacks worked in advertising as early as the 1940s and founded their own agencies in the 1950s. In honor of the 2011 AdColor Awards, we present some of the black men and women, past and present, who have made their mark on Madison Avenue. To learn more, read Madison Avenue and the Color Line and visit the Madison Avenue Project.
Captions by Frank McCoy
Steve Stoute is everywhere. The CEO of the Translation advertising, marketing and branding agency just published The Tanning of America, about the hip-hop-ization of the nation. Stoute, whose clients include Reebok and McDonald's, is also Jay-Z's marketing partner, and Translation is creating the campaign for the New Jersey Nets' move to Brooklyn, N.Y. Translation also remixed State Farm's jingle into a hit. Follow the philanthropist, pitchman and "part postracial philosopher" on Twitter. Watch videos.
In March 2011, CEO and chief strategist Faith Morris unveiled Merge Consumer Marketing, an outgrowth of OwensMorris Communications that opened in 2006. Merge is a full-service marketing agency that provides a range of services, including advertising, media planning and buying, public relations and television production. Morris says that her firm will "use consumer insights to reach beyond ethnicity to address the ways people interact and respond in this new blended society." Follow her on Twitter.
Industry veteran Jeffrey Bowman is the chief creative strategist at OgilvyCulture, a multicultural unit launched by ad giant Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide in November 2010. Clients include Kodak, Stoli, IKEA and Universal Pictures. The Clark Atlanta University MBA, with a marketing degree from South Carolina State University, directed market planning at Sears and worked at Dell, Whirlpool, PepsiCo and Miller Brewing Co. Follow him on Twitter.
In 1988 former NFL player Don A. Coleman, who had worked for the black ad firm Burrell Advertising, started his own company. After buying a firm targeting Latinos and Asians, Coleman founded Global Hue. In 2010 the full-service multicultural advertising and marketing agency had billings of $839 million and clients that included the U.S. Navy, Subway, Verizon and Wal-Mart. Follow Global Hue on Facebook and Twitter. Watch videos on YouTube.
Howard Buford, a former Clio-winning vice president and worldwide category supervisor at Young & Rubicam, founded Prime Access in 1990. The firm, based in New York, says that it provides "a unique urban-majority" approach to advertising, marketing and media services. The pioneer in gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender marketing received the Moss Kendrix Marketer Award from the National Alliance of Market Developers in June. Prime Access' clients include Chase, Jaguar and Hyatt.
Kendra Hatcher King was appointed worldwide director of insight and innovation at the $6.5 billion Interpublic Group in 2010. Her responsibilities include helping major clients expand their brands. She was a senior vice president and director of contextual planning at Publicis Groupe's Starcom MediaVest Group. She also worked at an earlier incarnation of black-owned Global Hue. King is a member of the American Advertising Federation's Mosaic Council, an industry think tank on diversity. Follow her on Twitter.
Robert Wingo, the CEO of Sanders Wingo, is adaptable. He made smooth transitions from the U.S. Army to the apparel business to advertising, joining the agency in 1983 as president and partner, and emphasized a regional and national approach that targets general, urban and Latino markets. Sanders Wingo was the Black Enterprise 2009 Advertising Agency of the Year. Follow Sanders Wingo on Twitter.
Lagrant Communications celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. The marketing communications firm, headquartered in Los Angeles, was founded by CEO Kim L. Hunter and targets black and Latino consumer markets. Clients include American Airlines, Harley-Davidson, MetLife and the California Department of Insurance. Hunter is also chairman of the Lagrant Foundation. The nonprofit group provides scholarships, career-development workshops, internships, mentorship and educational-enrichment programs to minority students pursuing undergraduate and graduate degrees in advertising, marketing and public relations. Follow Lagrant on Facebook and Twitter. Watch a video.
That quote is from J.D. Michaels, the senior vice president and director of creative engineering at BBDO New York, BBDO Worldwide and BBDO, the global advertising network. The Yale grad has been in the industry since 1992. He considers one of his specialties to be "magic," and appropriately, Michael was the producer and project manager for the promotion of HBO's hot series Game of Thrones. In 2010 he won an AdColor Creative Award.
Renee Horne, who was recently selected as one of PR Week magazine's 40 Under 40, is the director of digital and social media engagement at FedEx. She co-led a major social media study with Ketchum that looked at 62 brands.
Coltrane Curtis, the founder and creative director of branding firm Team Epiphany, considers himself an influencer, not an innovator. His clients — which include Timberland, Sony BMG, Interscope, Pepsi and Yahoo — clearly disagree and get the firm's motto, "We influence influencers." The Morehouse graduate has a degree in marketing and previously worked at Marc Ecko Enterprises. He was the recipient of the 2010 AdColor Innovator Award. Follow him on Twitter. Watch him talk about Epiphany here.
Ambre Morley is the associate director of product communications at Novo Nordisk. In August she was named one of PR Week magazine's 40 Under 40. The graduate of Tennessee State University manages product communications for the health care company's U.S. diabetes and biopharmaceuticals divisions. Morley was the manager of CNS/Internal Medicine Communications at Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Services. Watch her on YouTube.
Shawn Turner is the public relations manager for the Disney Store's 220 retail operations. She develops and implements communications strategies and public relations campaigns for the Disney Store North America and its more than 220 retail locations. In August she was selected as one of PR Week magazine's 40 Under 40.
Ann Fudge got into merchandising as a member of the Teen Board of Hecht's department store in her native Washington, D.C. A professor at Simmons College urged her to pursue a career in business, and a Harvard MBA led to a career in advertising at General Mills and Kraft Foods. She came out of retirement in 2003 to serve as chairman and CEO of Young & Rubicam Brands, making her the only African American to head a major advertising agency. She resigned in 2007 and now devotes her time to corporate and nonprofit boards.
Herb Kemp, the former president of UniWorld Group, was a senior executive at J. Walter Thompson and Ogilvy & Mather before joining UniWorld. Kemp, who earned an MBA at Dartmouth's Tuck School of Business, also worked for 11 years with the Chisholm-Mingo Group. After retiring in 2000, he ran his own consultancy, What's Black About It? LLC. In 2005 he co-authored What's Black About It? Insights to Increase Your Share of a Changing African-American Market. Kemp died in March 2011 at age 69.
Footsteps, LLC, a full-service communications group, was co-founded by Verdia Johnson, with Omnicom Group Partners as a 49 percent stakeholder. Johnson was previously with Stedman Graham & Associates. Follow Footsteps on Facebook and Twitter.
In 1999 serial entrepreneur, political activist and philanthropist Russell Simmons sold Def Jam Recordings for more than $100 million to Universal. At the same time, Simmons was CEO of Rush Communications Inc., which included the Phat Farm clothing line, a management company, a movie production house, a TV production company, a magazine and an advertising agency. Follow Simmons on Facebook and Twitter.
In 1996 movie producer, director, writer and actor Spike Lee established an urban-market agency, SpikeDDB, in a partnership with DDB Needham. Omnicom also has a share in SpikeDDB. In 2010 General Motors' Chevrolet chose the agency to provide ads for African Americans, a contract worth perhaps more than $40 million. Lee has also directed an ad for Absolut Vodka. Follow SpikeDDB on Facebook.
In 1986 Carol Williams, from Chicago's South Side, founded the Carol H. Williams Advertising Agency. Fourteen years earlier Williams, while still an advertising intern, had created the Secret antiperspirant campaign "Strong enough for a man, but made for a woman." Now her clients at the nation's largest independent female-owned black communications agency include the U.S. Army, General Mills, Nationwide Insurance and Walt Disney World. Watch a video featuring Williams. Follow her on Facebook.
J. Melvin Muse has been CEO of Muse USA since its founding in 1986. He also created that company's predecessor, Muse Cordero Chen Inc., a Los Angeles firm specializing in multiracial marketing. He is the author of The Shaman Chronicles, Book One: The 7 Senses of Multicultural Marketing.
In 1979 Keith Lockhart and Theodore Pettus founded the Lockhart & Pettus ad agency. Black-owned hair-care-product maker Carson Products became one of their first customers. Other clients included Chrysler, Dark & Lovely, Pepsi, KFC and Panasonic. The firm was closed in 1997.
Frank L. Mingo Jr. changed the way minorities were viewed in ads, initially as the first black executive at the flagship J. Walter Thompson and later as a vice president at McCann Erickson. Mingo hit his stride when he and Caroline R. Jones founded Mingo-Jones Advertising in 1977. The firm specialized initially in "crossover ethnic campaigns that later became general-market advertising." The most famous was "We do chicken right" for Kentucky Fried Chicken. The agency was renamed the Mingo Group in 1986. He died at age 49.
When Frank L. Mingo Jr. died in 1989, Sam Chisholm, the Mingo Group's chief operating officer, took over and repositioned it as an urban-marketing expert. He also added on public and community relations. In 1996 Chisholm, who had worked at UniWorld, renamed the agency the Chisholm-Mingo Group. It was one of five firms to be part of the $103 million ad campaign for the 2000 census. Chisholm is now CEO of Chisholm Consulting, Inc.
In 1963, after graduating from college, Caroline R. Jones joined the J. Walter Thompson secretarial pool but left it to become a copywriter. After working at several black agencies, she became the first black female vice president of a major agency: BBDO. In 1977 Jones co-founded Mingo-Jones Advertising, which created "We do chicken right" for Kentucky Fried Chicken. Nine years later she opened Caroline Jones Inc., where she created "Because you're worth it" for L'Oréal. Jones died in 2001 at age 59. Read her book.
Tom Burrell first got hooked on the advertising industry while working in an ad-agency mailroom. He later wrote copy on national accounts for major agencies, including Leo Burnett. In 1971 he founded Burrell McBain Advertising, which became Burrell Communications, and landed McDonald's and Coca-Cola as clients. Clients today include Toyota, P&G and 3M. Burrell, who retired in 2003 as chairman emeritus, is a member of the Advertising Hall of Fame. In 1999 ad giant Publicis purchased 49 percent of Burrell Communications.
Earl G. Graves Sr., the founder of Black Enterprise, published his first issue in 1970 and turned a profit soon afterward. Corporate America and its white ad agencies listened when Graves argued that black consumers wanted business news and ate, drank, drove, read and wore corporate America's goods and services.
In 1970 Edward Lewis and four partners saw a lucrative black consumer niche that advertisers and companies should desire: African-American women. They launched Essence magazine, which became the dominant vehicle for advertisers to reach young black women. Time Inc. bought 49 percent of the company in 2000, and then the rest for a reported $170 million in 2005. Four years later, Essence was ranked at No. 6 on Advertising Age's A-List. Lewis is now an investor in various ventures.
After working at two Chicago ad agencies, Barbara Proctor created Proctor & Gardner Advertising in 1970 to market to black communities. Clients included Kraft and Jewel Food Stores. An Ebony article quoted Proctor as saying that she considered herself to be part of a trend toward "conscience" marketing that played a constructive role in consumer communities.
Byron E. Lewis was a prescient ad genius. In 1969, with the help of venture capitalists, the former newspaperman founded UniWorld Group to market to blacks and Latinos, who together equaled only 16 percent of the U.S. population. By 1995 UniWorld was running national general-market accounts, including M&M/Mars 3 Musketeers. Today clients include Ford, Burger King and Home Depot.
In 1953 Vincent Cullers began his career as an art director at Ebony. Three years later he founded the nation's first black advertising agency, Vince Cullers Advertising. He crushed stereotypes and portrayed black Americans and black culture positively. He launched the first targeted national network-television ad campaigns featuring African Americans with Bristol-Myers' Bufferin. In 2006 he was inducted into the Advertising Hall of Fame. Cullers died in 2003 at age 79. Watch Cullers' Afro Sheen ad and a video about him.
In 1945 Georg Olden joined CBS and rose to be its on-air promotions chief. In 1961 he entered mainstream advertising, became the group art director of BBDO Television and later joined McCann Erickson. Olden, a graphic designer, also designed the Clio statuette, advertising's Oscar, and won seven of them. He once said his goal was to expand acceptance of, and opportunities for, black Americans in business. He died in 1975 in Los Angeles at the age of 54. See Olden on television.
The story of John H. Johnson's founding of Johnson Publishing Co. in 1942 and his creation of Ebony and Jet magazines is well-known. He told stories about African Americans that the mainstream media ignored, and provided role models for a people brutalized by American apartheid. He showed corporate America that black people bought its goods and services and couldn't be ignored.