McGhee Osse is a trailblazer in multicultural marketing communications. As the Co-CEO of Burrell Communications Group, one of the most highly regarded multicultural advertising agencies in the country, she has both witnessed and influenced the evolution of diversity advertising in the U.S.—and the world. In our conversation, McGhee shares how under-represented Black and Hispanic agencies are in the U.S., and yet the spending power of these consumers is massive. While Black advertising had its moment after George Floyd, Osse cautions us that “Black people are not dark-skinned white people.” To communicate effectively, you need to understand the demographics and consumption patterns of minority groups and learn to speak in a way that is both engaging and respectful. This episode will open your mind to the importance, and the essential practice, of multicultural advertising. Did you know that less than 2% of ad revenue is devoted to Black consumers? Take a listen and find out why.
"Learn to be a critical thinker, and expose yourself to anything and everything that you can. Expose yourself to different communities. It just opens the mind, and that's what makes a good marketer." McGhee Osse
About Marketing Legends
Marketing Legends, a series in the WVU Marketing Communications Today podcast, features marketing thinkers, innovators, practitioners and founders — legends of the marketing world — who will talk about their careers and share their wisdom with the marketers of today.
About our Guest
Co-CEO, Burrell Communications Group
McGhee Osse is a nationally recognized marketing and advertising professional. She is Co-CEO of Burrell Communications Group, one of the leading and most highly regarded multi-cultural advertising agencies in the country with annual billings exceeding $200 million and a roster of clients that lead in their respective categories, such as Procter & Gamble, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Kellogg’s, Walmart, Toyota and Comcast.
McGhee became an equity partner in Burrell Communications in 1996. In 2004 she and a long-time colleague purchased majority ownership of the company from its founder, Tom Burrell. With P&L responsibility and expertise in building brands, she has strategically grown revenue through value-based service and a consumer-focused approach.
Innovations to her credit include starting the agency’s Yurban marketing initiative, which targets youth and young adults; the introduction and development of the agency’s “account planning” practice; and spearheading the agency’s formal entry into the digital and interactive marketing arena. And most recently, she launched the agency’s political consultancy and practice.
McGhee has provided oversight in marketing communications for such global brands as Verizon, Adidas, the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, Nestle, Tide, Crest, Olay, American Airlines and the SuperValu chain of grocery stores. Campaigns under her watch have won acclaim from the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) and the American Advertising Federation (AAF) for creativity and in-market results.
In 2020, Burrell Communications Group was featured in Adweek 50: Leaders Who Delivered the Goods and previously, McGhee was honored by the National Alliance of Market Developers and the Black United Fund of Illinois for leadership. She is a recipient of the Chicago Minorities in Business Leadership Award, and she received the inaugural “Advertising Legend Award” from the ADCOLOR™ Industry Coalition for outstanding professional achievements. She was recognized by Johnson Publishing for outstanding success in marketing communications and by Rolling Out Magazine as “One of Nine African-American Business Executives to Know.” In addition, she was selected as a Boardroom Bound Honoree.
McGhee is a prominent leader in the advertising community and has served on the boards of the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s), the American Advertising Federation, and the Ad Council – Chicago. In addition, she has served as a trustee of the Foundation for Sarcoidosis Research and the Auditorium Theatre at Roosevelt University.
McGhee holds a B.A. degree from Spelman College and completed post-graduate course work in advertising at the University of South Carolina. She was honored to receive an honorary degree, Doctor of Humane Letters, from the University of South Carolina in 2021.
Meet the Hosts
Cyndi W. Greenglass is a founding partner and president at Livingston Strategies, a data-informed, strategic consulting firm that helps clients develop, execute, and measure their customer communications with a close focus on results. Cyndi has razor-sharp strategic skills matched by impeccable on-the-ground savvy and tactical abilities. She is an Adjunct Instructor in the Data Marketing Communications online master's degree program from West Virginia University.
Greenglass has twice been named into the Top 100 Influential BTB Marketers by Crain’s BtoB Magazine and was the 2012 CADM Chicago Direct Marketer of the Year. She is a member of the Board of Advisors for BRAND United and has taught, trained and presented at over 50 conferences throughout the world.
Ruth P. Stevens consults on customer acquisition and retention, for business-to-business clients. Ruth serves on the boards of directors of the HIMMS Media Group, and the Business Information Industry Association. She is a trustee of Princeton-In-Asia, past chair of the Business-to-Business Council of the DMA, and past president of the Direct Marketing Club of New York.
Ruth was named one of the 100 Most Influential People in Business Marketing by Crain’s BtoB magazine, and one of 20 Women to Watch by the Sales Lead Management Association. She serves as a mentor to fledgling companies at the ERA business accelerator in New York City.
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