In the advertising world there are few people who could be recognized as legends and pioneers, but Tom Burrell can legitimately stake his claim in both those worlds.
Starting out as a copywriter during the 1960s, working at various ad agencies in New York, Chicago and London, in 1971
Burrell founded Burrell Advertising
(now the Burrell Communications Group), the first black-owned advertising
agency in the U.S.
And take my word for it, it is impossible not to have
seen or heard a commercial on TV, radio, in newspapers, magazines and on billboards created
by Burrell Advertising in your lifetime.
Needless to say, it wasn’t all a bed of roses, and Burrell,
since his hard scrabble childhood growing up in Chicago, encountered more than his fair share of
struggles along the way to put it mildly, but he persevered to become a success and
major influence worldwide.
And since his retirement in 2004, he’s still remained active, concentrating his efforts in social and media criticism, in particular focusing on the negative influences of black images in the media. He even wrote a book on the subject titled Brainwashed.
Now documentary filmmaker Jonathan Ashley, a recent graduate of Kartemquin Film’s Diverse Voices
in Documentary workshop, is currently working on a documentary on the life
and impact of Tom Burrell.
Ashley has launched an IndieGoGo
fundraising campaign to raise $40,000 to help him complete the film.
Watch a clip from the project below, and then go to the film’s fundraising page HERE.