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Thomas J. Burrell

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Information about Thomas J. Burrell

Profile image of Thomas J. Burrell

Profession

Category:
BusinessMakers
MediaMakers
Occupation(s):
Advertising Chief Executive
Entrepreneur

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Black
Favorite Food:
Hummus
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Paris, France
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
3/18/1939
Birth Location:
Chicago, Illinois

Profession

Category:
BusinessMakers
MediaMakers
Occupation(s):
Advertising Chief Executive
Entrepreneur

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Black
Favorite Food:
Hummus
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Paris, France
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
3/18/1939
Birth Location:
Chicago
See how Thomas J. Burrell is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

As a shy boy growing up on Chicago's South Side, the dynamic advertising mogul Tom Burrell never imagined he would attain the power and prestige he has today. At age 18, he was admitted to Chicago's Roosevelt University. The school stimulated and inspired the young Burrell and he became involved in a variety of activities, including a leadership role with Alpha Delta Sigma fraternity.

Burrell began his career in advertising while still attending Roosevelt University, where he later graduated with a B.A. in English. His senior year, he landed a position as a copywriter with the Chicago division of Wade Advertising, before moving over to Foote Cone & Belding, where he became a Copy Supervisor. He spent one year in the firm's London offices.

In 1971, seeking to spread his wings and responding to the need for advertising that would target the burgeoning African American market, he founded Burrell Communications Group. Many of his initial clients, such as McDonalds and Coca-Cola, still remain clients today. Due in large part to these lasting partnerships, Burrell Advertising grew to become the nation's largest African American-owned marketing firm. Today, with its Advertising, Public Relations, and Consumer Promotions divisions, Burrell Communications offers a wide array of services to an equally broad range of clients. These include NYNEX, Kmart, Polaroid and the American Association of Retired Persons.

Due to his tremendous success, Burrell has become a nationally acknowledged leader in the advertising world. In 1986, he was the recipient of the Albert Lasker Award for Lifetime Achievement in Advertising, and in 1990, he received the prestigious Missouri Honor Medal for Distinguished Service in Journalism from the University of Missouri's School of Journalism. He has served as the Chairman of the Chicago Council of the American Association of Advertising Agencies. He currently sits on the National Board of Directors for that organization.

Burrell also devotes much of his time to various charitable organizations. He currently sits on the Board of Directors of the Chicago Urban League as well as the Board of Governors of Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind and the Advisory Council of Howard University's School of Communications.

He lives in Chicago with his wife, Madeleine Moore Burrell.

See how Thomas J. Burrell is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Tom Burrell interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Tom Burrell talks about his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Tom Burrell gives details about his mother's origins
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Tom Burrell talks about his mother and her life today
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Tom Burrell talks about his father's origin and family
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Tom Burrell recalls his father's personality
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Tom Burrell talks about how his parents met
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Tom Burrell details the extended family he lived with as a child
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Tom Burrell talks more about his family and his memories as a child
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Tom Burrell recalls his personality as a child
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Tom Burrell talks more about his childhood personality
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Tom Burrell recalls how he was influenced by the popular culture of the day
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Tom Burrell talks about his influences and attitudes towards women
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Tom Burrell talks about his mother's influence and the jobs he held while growing up
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Tom Burrell talks about his experiences in elementary school
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Tom Burrell talks more about his elementary school experience
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Tom Burrell recalls his experiences at Englewood High School
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Tom Burrell talks about his experiences at Parker High School
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Tom Burrell talks about the teacher who influenced him at Parker High School
  • Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Tom Burrell talks about his decision to pursue a career in advertising
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Tom Burrell talks about his career choice
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Tom Burrell recounts his plans to go to college and his father's interference with his decision
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Tom Burrell recalls his educational problems at Roosevelt University
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Tom Burrell details his eyesight problem
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Tom Burrell discusses how his eyesight may have interfered with his education
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Tom Burrell recalls his experience at Roosevelt University in Chicago
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Tom Burrell talks more about his Roosevelt University experience
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Tom Burrell talks about his leadership in a fraternity at Roosevelt University
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Tom Burrell talks about his career opportunities after Roosevelt University
  • Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Tom Burrell talks about how he gained entry into the advertising field
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Tom Burrell talks about his first advertising job out of college
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Tom Burrell gets promoted from mailroom to the copy writing department
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Tom Burrell talks about acts of racial discrimination he experienced while at Wade Advertising
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Tom Burrell changes jobs from Wade Advertising to Leo Burnett advertising agency
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Tom Burrell talks about the office culture at Leo Burnett advertising agency in the 1960s
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Tom Burrell details why he left Leo Burnett advertising agency to work in Europe
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Tom Burrell talks about his self-esteem issues in relation to his career path
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Tom Burrell theorizes about race and self-esteem and later his decision to get married
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Tom Burrell talks about his experience in London with his new wife
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Tom Burrell talks more about his London experience
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Tom Burrell recalls his experience at Needham, Harper and Steers advertising agency
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Tom Burrell details his feelings of inferiority while at Needham, Harper and Steers
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Tom Burrell details how he went into business for himself
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Tom Burrell talks more about going into business for himself
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Tom Burrell talks about his first advertising clients
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Tom Burrell discusses other notable black advertising agencies in the 1970s
  • Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Tom Burrell discusses his agency's portrayal of African Americans in advertising campaigns
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Tom Burrell talks about his business' milestones
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Tom Burrell discusses his agency's alliance with Publicis Groupe, the French communications conglomerate
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Tom Burrell talks about his agency's response to a rapidly changing society
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Tom Burrell talks about the advertising industry's response to a multicultural society and their need to change
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Tom Burrell talks about the advertising industry's resistance to change and the behavior of today's clientele
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Tom Burrell talks about industry trends in the advertising business
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Tom Burrell talks about the legacy of black-owned companies
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Tom Burrell talks about his business philosophy
  • Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Tom Burrell talks more about his business philosophy and the need to change with the times
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Tom Burrell talks about the future of his company
  • Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Tom Burrell talks more about the future of his company
  • Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Tom Burrell talks about his future and his concerns for the black community
  • Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Tom Burrell talks more about his concerns for the black community
  • Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Tom Burrell discusses his parents and his life in retrospect
  • Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Tom Burrell reflects on what his legacy might be
  • Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Photo - Tom Burrell with Nelson Mandela, 1990
  • Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Photo - Tom Burrell with Paul Schrage of McDonald's and Douglas Ivester of Coca-Cola, not dated