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Breakthroughs for black-owned agencies.

Don Coleman and Burrell advertising firms land Kmart, General Mills accounts

Two of the nation's largest black-owned advertising agencies made breakthroughs in the advertising industry by scoring major contracts with large corporations in May. Don Coleman Advertising Inc. (No. 1 on the BE ADVERTISING AGENCIES list with billings of $270 million), which partnered with True North Communications in 1999, was named the multicultural advertising agency of record for Kmart Corp., and Burrell Communications Group L.L.C. (No. 3 on the BE ADVERTISING AGENCIES list with billings of $179 million), which partnered with Publicis Networks in 2000, was named the agency of record for African American consumers for General Mills Inc. The deals represent significant advances in each agency's efforts to expand its core advertising business.

Don Coleman's deal with Kmart represents an important breakthrough for black-owned agencies. The Southfield, Michigan-based agency, which has handled Kmart's African American advertising and marketing since 1997, now gains responsibility for all Hispanic advertising and promotions as well. The agency has the opportunity to demonstrate its ability to reach a bilingual and multicultural audience for Kmart, a $40 billion company with more than 2,100 retail outlets. Kmart would not reveal its advertising and marketing budget, but the deal is believed to be worth millions.

"Don Coleman Advertising has provided excellent advertising and marketing support for Kmart for the last four years," says Larry Davis, senior vice president of advertising and marketing for Kmart. Don A. Coleman, president of Don Coleman Advertising, says using his firm for all multicultural advertising creates cost efficiencies for Kmart and helps Kmart integrate its messages to its consumers. "We do good work and Kmart recognizes that. And we already have a multicultural team in place," says Coleman.

Emphasizing the importance of the deal, Ken Smikle, president of Chicago-based Target Market News, a marketing research firm that tracks the trends of black consumers, explains, "Companies are beginning to realize that, historically, African American agencies have done a better job of designing ad campaigns that speak to everyone. Black agencies need to get more assignments that are general market oriented. This represents the most significant area of growth available to them."

Heide L. Gardner, vice president of diversity and strategic programs at the American Advertising Federation, agrees that the Coleman-Kmart deal is good news but notes that challenges remain.

"We still have this apartheid system in the advertising industry that is very resistant to the notion that black-owned agencies can work outside the niche," she says. Getting the Kmart account says a lot about penetrating the broader multicultural and possibly the general market."

General Mills' deal with Chicago-based Burrell Communications Group suggests that corporations are noticing the work of black-owned agencies. "We think it's important that we did not pitch General Mills," notes Thomas J. Burrell, chairman and CEO of Burrell Communications Group. "In this case, they heard about our work; they came to us and chose us."

According to General Mills' vice president of advertising, Rick Hosfield, the $7.9 billion manufacturer and marketer of consumer food products chose Burrell because it "not only has a strategic understanding of the African American community, but also adds a breakthrough style in everything they create, with demonstrated success in the food industry."

The contract makes General Mills one of Burrell's top-producing accounts. "It's another significant piece of business for us," says Burrell.
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Article Details
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Author:Gite, Lloyd
Publication:Black Enterprise
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2001
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