Back in 1972, when we first contacted Burrell, we were neophytes in the area of targeted marketing. We knew that the African-American market was important for us, but we didn't know how to reach out and communicate with them properly. At that time, it was an avant garde notion to hire a specialized agency to go after a particular target audience. We were pioneers in this whole area of direct marketing to specific target groups, and our partner in that pioneering has been Tom Burrell. He helped us understand the importance of speaking to specific target audiences in ways that would be motivating and give them a feeling that we, as a company, really understand them and have a special relationship with them.
Tom has an incredible sense of marketing, as well as incredible sensitivity to the African-American culture. Besides, he's a mensch-simply a good guy. He's the kind of person you want to have a relationship with, personally and from a business standpoint.
Burrell hires people who have their roots in the community. They understand the community not just because they've studied it but because they're part of it; they've lived it.
Because of this, any [marketing] communication they produce has what they term "a piece of business" in it-something that the African-American consumer sees in that commercial that tells him or her "They understand me; they get it; they know me." And it's always real, not false.
For example, among the best was a commercial from a few years ago called "Family reunion," which followed a guy coming home to see his mother. That was so good, captured such perfect emotional aspects, that I still get goosebumps thinking about it. Little pieces of business like that are wonderful.
Burrell's creative stands out because there's a chord, an emotion that they imbue into their advertising that strikes directly at the African-American heart. But you know what? It's universal. We've always agreed with Burrell that commercials have to work on multiple levels.
Another thing about having a good consultant and partner like Burrell is that we have great arguments. We argue about what there is in each commercial that really gets to the African-American marketplace. They understand that it's not just selling food; it's also selling a relationship. The results speak for themselves. Our relationship has helped McDonald's become No. 1 in the world, and we have the highest share of the African-American market. Talk to anyone in the 'hood, and they talk about Mickey D's. We've become part of the vernacular.