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Black History Month 2019 WEEK ONE

The ADVERTISING Club of New York and the Mixed Company podcast team have partnered to pay homage to the “Icons, Rock Stars, & Innovators” of the Golden Age and today!

Watch the video here or Listen to the conversations on the Mixed Company podcast. Kai Deveraux Lawson, Co-Host & Producer of the Mixed Company podcast, will engage an impressive line-up of today's industry leaders and Rock Stars in colorful conversations about the Golden Age and the change agents whose shoulders we stand upon.

Explore a gallery of the 'Icons' below and learn more about these titans of our industry.

Historical Context - Iconic Shoulders

Before the Golden Age begins, we must acknowledge those who cleared the hurdles, opened the doors, and set the foundation...shoulders we stand upon today!

The 1940s - Mid-1960s was a time in American history when deep contradictions in American society finally became unsustainable to Black people. African Americans who had fought fascism in World War II, came home, only to discover an unchanged landscape of racial violence and separate but not equal conditions.

Technological advancements in mass media's reach - from print to radio and TV - further planted seeds of resistance amongst African Americans.

With the success of black Advertising, Marketing, Promotions, and Media entrepreneurs, entertainers, and sports figures - African-American's hopes and dreams grew, as well as their demands to be seen, heard, and respected.

The 'Iconic Shoulders' Gallery serves to highlight and pay homage to the contributions made by just a few of the many men and women who would help bring forth change.

Valerie Graves is one of our Icons, Rockstars, & Innovators. She was part of the UniWorld team that won the Burger King general market account in 1993. They took the account from a major Madison Avenue agency. In vol. 1 of our series, Marc Strachan spoke to the effectiveness of multicultural agency talent and UniWorld's performance here is proof.


            Conversations with Mixed Company Podcast

            Click here to watch and listen to the full collection of interviews with                    some of  Advertising's  Black Icons, Rockstars & Innovators.


           The History of Black Advertising

           Click here to watch this collection of videos that highlight the history of                Blacks in advertising pre-Golden Age.

              Classic Black Ads

              Click here to watch more TV spots that hero African-Americans

              during the Golden Age.


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Claude Barnett

The Father of the Negro Press, Claude Barnett created the Associated Negro Press (ANP) in 1919, a service designed to provide news outlets with a reliable stream of news stories. At first he bartered news stories from varied sources to the black newspapers in return for advertising space. Eventually he built a reliable team of black news reporters known as “stringers” who provided stories of interest to African Americans. Barnett then charged newspaper publishers $25 per week for access to the latest stories. 

At its zenith in the early 1950s, the ANP simultaneously serviced 200 newspapers across the Unites States and the world. Barnett expanded his network of stringers beyond the United States into the West Indies and Africa. 

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John Johnson

Johnson Publishing Company was a major producer of African American magazines that focused on the accomplishments of black Americans.

After working varied jobs for a few years, in 1942 with $500.00 derived from mortgaging his mother’s furniture, Johnson sold subscriptions and with the proceeds published Negro Digest (later renamed Black World). The format was copied from Reader’s Digest, a literary magazine. Three years later Johnson started Ebony, a magazine modeled after the successful pictorial publication, Life magazine. In 1951 Johnson began publishing Jet magazine, a weekly periodical which reported news and developments relevant to African Americans.

Providing a much needed forum for black Americans and with a national scope, these magazines explored issues, reported events, and discussed people as they related to needs and concerns of black Americans. Johnson became involved in politics and the civil rights movement. He supported Martin Luther King, Jr., thoroughly reported civil rights efforts, befriended Jesse Jackson, and was a benefactor of Howard University.

In 1982, Johnson became the first African American to appear on Forbes list of wealthiest Americans. 

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Moss Kendrix

With a doggedness that his contemporaries noted and admired, Moss Kendrix managed to work his way into the executive offices and boardrooms of Coca-Cola and engineered a marketing campaign that advanced blacks’ postwar citizenship claims by asserting their American identity as consumers of American goods. Picturing blacks consuming, rather than serving its product, Coca-Cola’s first non-celebrity “Negro market” advertisements visually forged associations between conceptions of “blackness” and “Americanness,” by picturing fashionably dressed, Coke-drinking African Americans involved in middle-class activities while literally imbibing their American identity from the classic, green glass bottle. 

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David J. Sullivan

David J Sullivan preceding the war was a recognized national expert on the black consumer market.

In 1943, he introduced the 10 rules for advertising agencies titled "Don't Do This -- If You Want To Sell Your Products to Negroes!" where he outlines several situations where Black consumers took offense to racist product brand names or advertising copy. 

1. Don’t exaggerate Negro characters with flat noses, thick lips, kinky hair and owl eyes. 2. Avoid Negro minstrels. Avoid even the use of white people with blackface and a kinky wig for hire to depict a Negro. 3. Don’t constantly name the Negro porter or waiter “George.” Nothing makes Negroes angrier than to be called George. 4. Avoid incorrect English usage, grammar and dialect…get away from “Yass uh,” “sho,” “dese,” “dem,” “dat,” or “dat ‘ere,” “gwine,” “you all.” 5. Don’t picture colored women as buxom, broad-faced, grinning mammies and Aunt Jemimas. 6. Don’t refer to Negro women as “Negresses.” 7. Avoid, even by suggestion, “There’s a nigger in the woodpile,” or “coon,” “shine,” and “darky.” 8. Don’t illustrate…any…advertising piece showing a Negro eating watermelon, chasing chickens, or crap shooting. 9. Don’t picture the “Uncle Mose” type. He is characterized by kinky hair and as a stooped, tall, lean and grayed sharecropper, always in rags. 10. Avoid using the word “Pickaninny,” or lampooning illustrations of Negro children. 11. Don’t insult the clergy.

Sullivan had one of the first full service black ad agencies in the country, where he sought clients from large white owned corps, as well as black owned. 

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Clarence Holte 

Clarence Holte was born February 19, 1909 in Norfolk, Va. He attended Lincoln University (Pa.), the American Institute of Banking and the New School of Social Research, both in New York City. He joined Batten, Barton, Durstine & Osborn, Inc. (BBDO) in 1952 and was the first African-American to reach the executive level in a general-market advertising firm. In his work at BBDO, he often traveled to Europe and Africa, where he found inspiration to develop the first advertising campaign that associated a brand with black history. “Ingenious Americans,” an award-winning series that he developed for Calvert Distillers, noted contributions that were ignored by textbooks at the time, including those of Harriet Tubman, Benjamin Banneker and others.

“What BBDO executives wanted was their own version of Jackie Robinson — specifically, a man who was not only supremely qualified, but who they also believed could withstand any negativity based on his race without responding aggressively,” remarks Jason Chambers, author of, “Madison Avenue and the Color Line: African Americans in the Advertising Industry”. 

See Clarence Holte's Advertising Portfolio, 1944 here...

Roy Eaton 

In 1955, Young & Rubicam hired Roy Eaton, a Phi Beta Kappa with a master’s degree in music. Mr. Eaton, who applied to the agency virtually on a whim, talked executives into letting him write tryout ad copy, and then sample jingles.

Charles Feldman, the agency’s creative director, hired him as its first black professional. According to Jason Chamber, author, “Madison Avenue and the Color Line…”, Mr. Feldman told the new employee: “The reason I had you write the jingles is that, though you obviously have creative talent, if you were white you would have been hired immediately, just on the basis of the commercials you wrote. But I want a Jackie Robinson. I want someone who is not only good, but superior!”


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Edward Brandford, Barbara M. Watson, Mary Louise Yabro 

Edward Brandford, a Cooper Union graduate and commercial artist; with two partners, Barbara Watson and Mary Louise Yabro, organized the first modeling agency for African-American women in 1946 in Manhattan; models were known as “Brandford Lovelies”. He then tried to open his own ad agency, but the concept of niche or multicultural marketing had not taken flight. Unfortunately, companies eager to hire his models had little interest in his guidance. Most thought that all they had to do to reach black consumers was change the race of the models in their ads.


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