Pioneering Black Ad Agency Closes Doors Forever

Ending 27 years of operation as one of the nation’s leading African American-owned advertising agencies, the Chisholm-Mingo Group Inc. has folded. The decision to close, made by 61-year-old Chairman and CEO Samuel Chisholm, came five months after the firm, a former BE Advertising Agency of the Year (“On the Right Track,” June 2001), filed for bankruptcy in an effort to reorganize its finances.

Frank Mingo and Caroline Jones founded the agency in 1977 as Mingo-Jones Advertising, which built a solid reputation with innovative campaigns that appealed to black consumers. Slogans such as “We do chicken right” for KFC, created by the late Jones, were the agency’s hallmark. When Mingo died suddenly in 1989 at the age of 49, Chisholm, already president and CEO, assumed the chairmanship.

Economic setbacks stemming from the 9-11 terrorist attacks and the inability to provide a broad base of services led to the company’s downfall. (See “Chisholm-Mingo Struggles To Survive,” April 2004.) Chisholm-Mingo was one of the few black ad agencies that was still independent.

In our June 2003 issue, Chisholm-Mingo was ranked No. 5 on the BE ADVERTISING AGENCIES list with $100 million in billings. Its major clients included Anheuser-Busch, the U.S. Census, Royal Caribbean International, Amtrak, and Texaco. Chisholm has said that he has no specific plans for the future but wants to continue to help younger people in the business learn from the group’s experiences.