group’s preference was for competitors: Nissan Altima and Honda Accord. With a marketing budget of $2 million to $5 million, the team created an online augmented reality program with six episodes that revolved around the espionage activities of a black female fashion designer and her Camry. “We wanted to change perceptions of the vehicle by putting the vehicle within an environment that was exciting and thrilling, just like African American females,” Ferguson explains. “It was the first of its kind marketed to African American women. It impacted sales, which is what we wanted to happen all along.”
The campaign surpassed all its objective measures: Camry’s perception among African Americans increased by 12 percentage points, 140% over goal, and purchase consideration for black car buyers was 260% over analysts’ expectations. The campaign’s success earned Burrell the coveted David Ogilvy Award in 2009 in the automotive category.
Two Management Styles, One Mission
It’s been seven years since Ferguson and Williams Osse acquired a controlling interest in Burrell and moved from managing directors to owners. As the company marks its 40th anniversary, Ferguson and Williams Osse celebrate 27 years and 25 years, respectively, with the firm. Both women came from general market agencies to work for Burrell as account managers to eventually having oversight of clients and significant operational roles. A former eighth grade English teacher, Ferguson worked for Chicago-based advertising firm Bozell & Jacobs (now known as Bozell) as an account supervisor when she was personally recruited by Tom Burrell. “He brought me in to work on Procter & Gamble,” recalls Ferguson. “They had just won the business, and he wanted someone who understood classical marketing and advertising.” Williams Osse, a Spelman graduate, joined the Atlanta office after working at the General Mills Restaurant Group on Red Lobster to handle the Georgia Power account and then Coca-Cola.
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