Cousin to ad man Bill Sharp, Thomas J. Burrell started his career as a humble mailroom clerk at Wade Advertising. He soon would change the advertising industry, and how the industry thought about people of color. Within a year at Wade, Burrell was promoted to copywriter for brands such as Alka-seltzer and Robin Hood Flour.
Throughout his career, Burrell worked on campaigns that focused on African-Americans, however those ads simply were carbon copies of general market campaigns. Burrell strongly believed that, “Black people are not dark-skinned white people,” and took this thought to found Burrell Communications Group in 1971.
Burrell challenged the one-size-fits-all idea in advertising and helped change the way Black men and women were viewed in the media with authentic and creative portrayals.