Advertising Revolutionary

The Life and Work of Tom Burrell
Author: Jason P. Chambers
The ad exec who revolutionized the image of black Americans in advertising
Cloth – $110
Paper – $24.95
eBook – $14.95
Publication Date
Paperback: 02/06/2024
Cloth: 02/06/2024
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About the Book

Over a forty-year career, Chicagoan Tom Burrell changed the face of advertising and revolutionized the industry’s approach to African Americans as human beings and consumers. Jason P. Chambers offers a biography of the groundbreaking creator and entrepreneur that explores Burrell’s role in building brands like McDonald’s and Coca-Cola within a deeply felt vision of folding positive images of black people into mainstream American life. While detailing Burrell’s successes, Chambers tells a parallel story of what Burrell tried to do that sheds light on the motivations of advertising creators who viewed their work as being about more than just selling. Chambers also highlights how Burrell used his entrepreneurial gifts to build an agency that opened the door for black artists, copywriters, directors, and other professionals to earn livings, build careers, and become leaders within the industry.

Compelling and multidimensional, Advertising Revolutionary combines archival research and interviews with Burrell and his colleagues to provide a long-overdue portrait of an advertising industry legend and his times.

About the Author

Jason P. Chambers is a professor of advertising at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is the author of Madison Avenue and the Color Line: African Americans in the Advertising Industry and coeditor of Building the Black Metropolis: African American Entrepreneurship in Chicago.


"Chamber's extensive interviews with his subject illuminate how a corporate trailblazer navigated the changing mores of the post-civil rights era. Business historians and advertising professionals will want to take a look. " --Publishers Weekly


“OMG! Jason’s book educated me about Tom and his agency on things that I didn’t even know, and I worked there. However, there’s one thing I needed no education about: if not for Tom and Burrell Communications, I wouldn’t exist in the ad industry and neither would my company. Half of everything I learned about advertising, I learned from my time working at Burrell, and Jason’s book brought it all back to life in full, living, soulful color!”--Jimmy Smith, Chairman, CEO, and CCO of Amusement Park Entertainment

“Jason P. Chambers’s thoughtful and thorough biography of Tom Burrell makes an important contribution to African American business history.”--Robert E. Weems, Jr., author of The Merchant Prince of Black Chicago: Anthony Overton and the Building of a Financial Empire