Burrell Inks Deal with American Airlines

Black-owned advertising agency takes marketing to the skies

Burrell Communications

Burrell Communications

American Airlines announced today that it has inked a deal with African American-owned advertising firm Burrell Communications Group L.L.C, making the Chicago-based company the airline’s primary agency for all marketing and advertising geared toward African Americans.

“We had been looking for an ad agency for most of the year,” says Sonja Whitemon, spokesperson for American Airlines. “We experienced Burrell’s professionalism and creative work and we made our decision based on that.”

American Airlines declined to disclose the dollar amount of the deal.

Burrell (No. 4 on the B.E. ADVERTISING AGENCIES list) will officially begin working with the airlines giant Nov. 1. The deal will also have the firm working closely with the airline’s general market advertising firm, TM Advertising, but all of Burrell’s ads will be targeted to black media.

“African Americans spend about $3 billion on travel, transportation, and lodging annually, and a little over $1 billion on air travel. American Airlines recognizes that this is a very viable market,” says McGhee Williams Osse, co-CEO at Burrell. “The number of African American business travelers is increasing [and] business ownership among African Americans is growing, so this is a huge opportunity.”

Osse says Burrell will be looking heavily at an online initiative. “We’re going to probably use that as the core.” The company will be developing its marketing plan over the next few weeks.

“We are delighted to work with American Airlines,” Osse says. “This is an account our agency has wanted for a long time, and we are thrilled to have the opportunity to reach African American travelers in ways that resonate with those who travel for both business and pleasure.”

A longstanding force in the marketing arena, Burrell employs 135 workers and has offices in Chicago and Atlanta. The company generated $205 million in revenue last year. Their client list includes Toyota, Procter & Gamble, and Walt Disney World Resorts.

Global Hue, the nation’s largest minority-owned, full-service marketing communications agency, had previously managed American Airline’s African American marketing efforts. The company, (No. 1 on the B.E. ADVERTISING AGENCIES list), resigned its account with American Airlines in March after an eight-year partnership.

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