Burrell Fans Out, From Fab Five Freddy to Faems

One week after Fab Five Freddy and two hip-hop generation directors signed up with Burrell Communications, agency veteran Mike Faems joined the agency as executive creative director.

Tom Burrell is aware of the juxtaposition, and it’s one he’s chosen to em-brace as another signal of his intent to broaden the shop’s scope beyond ethnic niche marketing.

“We do have an objective here—multiculturalism,” said the venerable African American target shop’s CEO.

Faems will oversee Burrell’s day-to-day creative work, while ECD Alma Hopkins takes over pursuit of global business and the agency’s “Yurban” concept aimed at urban youth.

Middle-aged, suburban and white, Faems doesn’t claim to have his finger on the “Yurban” beat. “I don’t know that I can talk to an 18-year-old kid in the city, but I think I can recognize an answer to a marketing problem,” Faems said.

Faems left Young & Rubicam in December amid management changes after 12 years at the Chicago shop’s creative helm. His retirement was essentially over by January, when watching the Super Bowl he found he missed being involved in the advertising.

Burrell said the agency would be hard-pressed to fill senior positions if it only considered African Americans. “How do you grow bigger if you limit yourself to a group of people who are grossly underrepresented in the industry?” Burrell asked.

Faems was involved as a freelancer in the agency’s successful pitch for a $20-30 million brand assignment from Verizon, for which it competed against several general market agencies.

“I don’t think we need to be limited to one area of expertise,” Faems said. “I think we want to grow in a number of directions.”