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Agency A-List 2018

Burrell Communications Is Ad Age's 2018 Runner-Up for Multicultural Agency of the Year

By Published on .

They're listening (from l.): McGhee Williams Osse, Fay Ferguson and Lewis Williams.
They're listening (from l.): McGhee Williams Osse, Fay Ferguson and Lewis Williams. Credit: Courtesy Johnny Villalobos/Burrell Communications

Last year, Burrell grew like nobody's business, adding a whopping 10,000 new employees.

Well, in a manner of speaking.

The expansion was thanks to the agency's Social Listening Lab, a new proprietary tool it developed in 2017 that gathered a focus group of 10,000 African-American influencers with a combined reach of 115 million consumers. The agency taps into the group for feedback on its campaigns and pitches.

"The information we're able to garner is unbelievably useful for us as an agency in terms of new business," says Fay Ferguson, co-chief executive officer of the 122-employee Chicago-based company.

The offering, Burrell says, has been instrumental in building African-American market share for existing clients such as Toyota and new ones like AARP, which enlisted Burrell two years ago. The latter's 2017 campaign on marketing to consumers over the age of 50 garnered 8 million media impressions and nearly 1 million tweets, according to Ferguson.

Burrell Communications staff.
Burrell Communications staff. Credit: Courtesy Johnny Villalobos/Burrell Communications

Such work helped Burrell increase its year-over-year revenue by $2.5 million to $22.5 million in 2017. The company is also increasing its own advocacy through internal work like Allies of Innocence, which partners with mental health organizations to help survivors of gun violence.

"It keeps you closer to the people in a far deeper way," says Ferguson.

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