Crossing the Color Line

African American advertising agencies fight to prevent mainstream firms from taking their most prized possession -- the urban market

a Reverend Jesse Jackson boycott and share in part of the $50 million earmarked for African American and Hispanic advertising.

Burrell was named general market agency for Verizon. The Chicago-based firm also won the General Mills account, a former Don Coleman Advertising Inc. account estimated to be worth $15 million to $20 million annually. Meanwhile, Don Coleman Advertising Inc. (No. 1 on the BE ADVERTISING AGENCY list with $330 million in billings) reorganized in April under the new name GlobalHue. The Southfield, Michigan, firm acquired Hispanic firm Montemayor & Asociados of San Antonio in Spring 2002 for an undisclosed amount and is searching for an Asian partner. It also opened a Los Angeles office this Spring.

As of press time, Chrysler had put out some feelers to find a replacement for GlobalHue’s Don Coleman Advertising, but not before catching flack over its commercials, done by PentaMark Worldwide, which featured dark haired, bronze skinned actors who were indiscernibly black, white, or Hispanic. Consider this a glimpse of things to come as more advertisers seek to “diversify” their ads with ethnically “neutral” models. “Clearly, Chrysler is not in tune with what’s going on,” says Smikle in response to Chrysler’s multicultural advertising executive’s defense of the commercials in a December 18, 2001 Wall Street Journal article. “[Chrysler] has gone from being one of the most sensitive marketers to African American consumers to one that describes its campaign as ‘neutral.’”

GlobalHue also spun off two of its public relations and research operating units, Ntouch Communications Group and Nsights Worldwide, respectively, and they will service both GlobalHue and outside business as well. The agency will also expand Kmart’s “The Stuff of Life” campaign with advertising featuring Chaka Khan, BeBe Winans, and Joe Feliciano. Kmart’s spending on multicultural advertising was estimated by AdAge.com to be about $25 million in 2001. Coleman says that the retailer will be in a much better position in the wake of filing bankruptcy with its failing stores now closed. With many Kmart stores located in the suburbs, urban area stores will gain increased focus and the urban consumer will benefit. SpikeDDB (No. 10 on the BE ADVERTISING AGENCY list with $25 million in billings) handled the retailer’s general market advertising.

GlobalHue’s “Free Up” campaign for Verizon’s pre-paid phone card helped grow business from 9% to 22% in seven months, states Coleman. Also in the wings are campaigns for Johnson & Johnson, Tylenol, and Mylanta.

Bcom3 recently merged with Publicis Networks. In other BCom3 news: Its consolidation of its multicultural agencies into Pangea saw Vigilante founders Marc Stephenson Strachan and Mark S. Robinson strike a deal with BBDO New York in January 2001 for an undisclosed amount to launch S/R Communications Alliance. The firm is a holding company for eight minority-owned advertising companies with expertise in everything from research to advertising to media planning and buying.

The UniWorld Group (No. 2 on the BE ADVERTISING AGENCY list with $258.5 million in billings) has leveraged the influence of major black entertainers. Scheduled Burger King ads feature Steve Harvey

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