Clarence Holte was born February 19, 1909 in Norfolk, Va. He attended Lincoln University (Pa.), the American Institute of Banking and the New School of Social Research, both in New York City. He joined Batten, Barton, Durstine & Osborn, Inc. (BBDO) in 1952 and was the first African-American to reach the executive level in a general-market advertising firm. In his work at BBDO, he often traveled to Europe and Africa, where he found inspiration to develop the first advertising campaign that associated a brand with black history. “Ingenious Americans,” an award-winning series that he developed for Calvert Distillers, noted contributions that were ignored by textbooks at the time, including those of Harriet Tubman, Benjamin Banneker and others.
“What BBDO executives wanted was their own version of Jackie Robinson — specifically, a man who was not only supremely qualified, but who they also believed could withstand any negativity based on his race without responding aggressively,” remarks Jason Chambers, author of, “Madison Avenue and the Color Line: African Americans in the Advertising Industry”. CLICK TO SEE MORE
Caroline R. Jones
Caroline R. Jones broke race and sex barriers in advertising to become one of the most prominent black women among agency executives. The résumé of Ms. Jones, a copywriter, was dotted with firsts, because in many instances her promotion at an agency made her the first black woman to hold a post. She worked for large Madison Avenue shops and founded or helped found several agencies that specialized in advertising aimed at blacks and other minorities. Over the years, her clients included American Express, Anheuser-Busch, McDonald's, Prudential, Toys ''R'' Us and the Postal Service. In many cases, the clients were making their initial forays into marketing to black consumers through her and her agencies. CLICK TO SEE MORE
David J. Sullivan
David J Sullivan preceding the war was a recognized national expert on the black consumer market.
In 1943, he introduced the 10 rules for advertising agencies titled "Don't Do This -- If You Want To Sell Your Products to Negroes!" where he outlines several situations where Black consumers took offense to racist product brand names or advertising copy.
1. Don’t exaggerate Negro characters with flat noses, thick lips, kinky hair and owl eyes. 2. Avoid Negro minstrels. Avoid even the use of white people with blackface and a kinky wig for hire to depict a Negro. 3. Don’t constantly name the Negro porter or waiter “George.” Nothing makes Negroes angrier than to be called George. 4. Avoid incorrect English usage, grammar and dialect…get away from “Yass uh,” “sho,” “dese,” “dem,” “dat,” or “dat ‘ere,” “gwine,” “you all.” 5. Don’t picture colored women as buxom, broad-faced, grinning mammies and Aunt Jemimas. 6. Don’t refer to Negro women as “Negresses.” 7. Avoid, even by suggestion, “There’s a nigger in the woodpile,” or “coon,” “shine,” and “darky.” 8. Don’t illustrate…any…advertising piece showing a Negro eating watermelon, chasing chickens, or crap shooting. 9. Don’t picture the “Uncle Mose” type. He is characterized by kinky hair and as a stooped, tall, lean and grayed sharecropper, always in rags. 10. Avoid using the word “Pickaninny,” or lampooning illustrations of Negro children. 11. Don’t insult the clergy.
Sullivan had one of the first full service black ad agencies in the country, where he sought clients from large white owned corps, as well as black owned. CLICK TO SEE MORE
With a doggedness that his contemporaries noted and admired, Moss Kendrix managed to work his way into the executive offices and boardrooms of Coca-Cola and engineered a marketing campaign that advanced blacks’ postwar citizenship claims by asserting their American identity as consumers of American goods. Picturing blacks consuming, rather than serving its product, Coca-Cola’s first non-celebrity “Negro market” advertisements visually forged associations between conceptions of “blackness” and “Americanness,” by picturing fashionably dressed, Coke-drinking African Americans involved in middle-class activities while literally imbibing their American identity from the classic, green glass bottle. CLICK TO SEE MORE
Johnson Publishing Company was a major producer of African American magazines that focused on the accomplishments of black Americans.
After working varied jobs for a few years, in 1942 with $500.00 derived from mortgaging his mother’s furniture, Johnson sold subscriptions and with the proceeds published Negro Digest (later renamed Black World). The format was copied from Reader’s Digest, a literary magazine. Three years later Johnson started Ebony, a magazine modeled after the successful pictorial publication, Life magazine. In 1951 Johnson began publishing Jet magazine, a weekly periodical which reported news and developments relevant to African Americans.
Providing a much needed forum for black Americans and with a national scope, these magazines explored issues, reported events, and discussed people as they related to needs and concerns of black Americans. Johnson became involved in politics and the civil rights movement. He supported Martin Luther King, Jr., thoroughly reported civil rights efforts, befriended Jesse Jackson, and was a benefactor of Howard University.
In 1982, Johnson became the first African American to appear on Forbes list of wealthiest Americans. CLICK TO SEE MORE
The Father of the Negro Press, Claude Barnett created the Associated Negro Press (ANP) in 1919, a service designed to provide news outlets with a reliable stream of news stories. At first he bartered news stories from varied sources to the black newspapers in return for advertising space. Eventually he built a reliable team of black news reporters known as “stringers” who provided stories of interest to African Americans. Barnett then charged newspaper publishers $25 per week for access to the latest stories.
At its zenith in the early 1950s, the ANP simultaneously serviced 200 newspapers across the Unites States and the world. Barnett expanded his network of stringers beyond the United States into the West Indies and Africa. CLICK TO SEE MORE
Junius Edwards, born in 1929 in Alexandria, Louisiana, joined the Army at 18, served for nine years in Korea and Japan, and worked in the Judge Advocate General Corps and the Army Counter Intelligence Corps. After his honorable discharge he went to study at the University of Oslo, Norway using his GI Bill, where he continued to pursue his passion for writing and learned to speak Norwegian.
Settling in New York, he began working as a copywriter for various advertising agencies such as Ogilvy & Mather, Ted Bates Inc., and Norman, Craig, & Kummel.
In 1965 he established his own agency, Junius Edwards Inc., one of the first black owned advertising agencies in New York City.
It was his intention for his agency to work on a diverse portfolio of jobs...growing into a general market agency. Successful in providing Carver Federal Savings Bank with a crossover campaign, "Do something about Harlem," Edwards was able to reinforce his belief that advertising should appeal to the conscience, as well as the intellect.
With a client list including: Carver Federal Savings Bank, Faberge, Liggett & Myers, and The Greater New York Savings Bank
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 in 2004.
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 recognized for their cultural and historical significance and archived in the Library of Congress.
Burrell began his career in the mailroom at Wade Advertising while still a student 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. CLICK TO SEE MORE
Shirley Riley-Davis was the first African-American Clio Winner for her work on AT&T Longlines. “Long distance is the next best thing to being there” was the tagline for the winning AT&T longlines spot. The emotional spot made millions pick up the phone to call someone they loved. Shirley went on to win three Clios for the campaign and dozens of awards for AT&T Longlines.
Born Shirley Riley in Pittsburgh, she attended the University of Pittsburgh and began her advertising career there.
When she was 18, she won an essay contest on what advertising meant to her. Her first job in advertising was writing copy and shopping columns and creating ads for a large Pittsburgh department store.
The store work was great training for Mrs. Riley-Davis, as sales results gave her immediate feedback on her work.
She soon moved to New York, where she wrote print and radio copy for brands including Old Spice and Manpower Deodorant. She took a job with Ayer as a creative executive working on the AT&T account, among others.
Family matters brought her to Chicago in 1976. She worked on the Kraft Foods account for Ayer’s Chicago office and then was recruited by Leo Burnett, where she worked on such key accounts as Kellogg’s, Allstate Insurance and McDonald’s.