BE gives A.G. Gaston Lifetime Achievement Award
AT THE FIRST BLACK ENTER- prise Entrepreneurs Con- ference held at Disney’s Contemporary Resort in 1996, BE introduced the A.G. Gaston Lifetime Achievement Award – its highest honor for entre- preneurial excellence – by presenting the honor to ad- vertising industry visionary Thomas J. Burrell, founder and CEO of Burrell Communications Group.
The reason: Burrell’s “reputation for sharing his knowledge and expertise [as well as the fact] that he is an inspirational leader of the African American community.” His stellar achievements were found to be in keeping with the tradition of the legendary business trailblazer in which the award is named.
Burrell became known as the “Dean of Black Advertising” after gaining a track record for breaking barriers within the media industry. He started his advertising career as a copywriter for Chicago- based Wade Advertising and then Leo Burnett in the early 1960s.
By 1967, he took a position in Foot Cone & Belding’s London Office, and when he returned to American shores a year later he quickly rose to become a copy supervisor at Needham Harper & Steers.
In 1971, he decided to launch an agency with a partner, who would depart a few years later, and transformed it into an advertising powerhouse.
BY DEREK T. DINGLE