Burrell Communications is an African American-owned advertising agency that has worked with Fortune 100 companies such as Coca-Cola and Fortune 500 companies like Toyota and McDonald’s. The Chicago-based firm, which has four decades of experience connecting consumers across all platforms, recently released a touching PSA in honor of Detroit bus driver Jason Hargrove, who died from the novel coronavirus. We spoke with Lewis Williams, the chief creative officer at Burrell Communications, about why the company felt compelled to create this content.
What was the creative process behind the PSA?
At the heart of all creatives, we are artists, so we use our skills. If I was a painter, I would have done a painting. If I was a singer I would have written a song. But we’re creatives and we deal with TV spots and radio spots, and social things like that. We were just sitting around and you read an article, you see a post and you just get activated. You think, “What can I do, what skills has God blessed me with so that I can make a difference?” That motivated us and it was just that simple.
What was the response to the video from his wife and other viewers?
We saw the video and I was moved because I think it had like 800,000 hits on Facebook. … The concern was she wouldn’t call us back because we were strange people calling saying, “Hey can we do a commercial with your husband you just lost.” She was a very brave woman. She said, “Please, please, I do not want my husband to die in vain. Whatever you can do to keep his message alive, please do.” We applaud her for that. I think this was even before she had the opportunity to bury him. I get choked up every time because she’s the hero along with Jason. All we did was just [fan] the flame to keep it going.
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