Burrell posts powerful COVID-19 video on IG


During her appearance on CBS’ Face the Nation earlier this month, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot told host Margaret Brennan while the novel coronavirus COVID-19 has impacted the United States in unthinkable ways, the virus has been “devastating” for black communities. This can be attributed in part to the underlying health conditions that disproportionately impact people of color.

In Chicago, 72% of those who have died from the coronavirus are black according to Illinois statistics. The chilling truth about that stat is African Americans make up 30% of the city’s population.

According to the McKinsey & Company report, COVID-19: Investing in Black Lives and Livelihoods, 39% of jobs held by Black workers (seven million jobs in all) are vulnerable as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, compared with 34% for White workers.

The majority of Black workers, by the very nature of their jobs, are putting their lives and health on the line to provide necessary goods and services to our society.

Add to this list former Detroit bus driver Jason Hargrove.

Hargrove passed away from complications caused by the virus. Eleven days before his death, he filmed an approximately 4:00 video that he posted to his own Facebook page.

When the team from acclaimed agency Burrell Communication saw the video, they felt they could take Jason’s powerful message and make it even stronger by attaching the sobering stats to it.

Donated to Burrell by Hargrove’s widow, Desha Johnson-Hargrove and edited by the agency’s Steve Sunner,” the somber bus driver looks down into the lens of his iPhone and delivers his message, ” We out here as public workers, trying to make an honest living… I’m just letting you know, this is real. Y’all need to take this serious.”

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Burrell dedicated their Instagram and YouTube post to Jason, accompanying the video with this thought-provoking post. “As lifelong advocates for improving the lives of the diverse communities we serve through transformative work, we are always committed to giving our time and voices to increase awareness of the disparities that affect our communities. Today, and every day, we honor and remember all fallen essential workers who were on the front line for us. This is “For Jason.” #BlackIsHuman #COVID19

Watch below:

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“Jason’s video puts a face on the pandemic. He’s so approachable and conversational and what he says is something you can’t write,” Chief Creative Officer Lewis Williams tells Reel Chicago. “The power of Jason’s video is that it’s not a mayor, government or public health official telling us how bad things are. It’s just a regular guy telling us we have to do better. Then he becomes a victim of the very thing he’s talking to us about. When he says, ‘good-bye’ I’m sure he never meant it as a real good-bye, but now it adds power to the statistics we’re seeing and hearing.”

The “For Jason” PSA will be distributed across top-tier African American broadcast and digital media outlets, including TV One, Black News Channel, Revolt TV, iOne, Rolling Out and Bounce TV. The campaign’s goal is to raise awareness of the severity of COVID-19 within the African American community, and provide streamlined access to critical and relevant information, via the Black is Human webpage.

There is currently a petition making the rounds to keep coronavirus COVID-19 messaging out of competitions and award shows. If that happens, then it’s a travesty that something like Jason’s video which Burrell made even more powerful with the stats, would not have an opportunity to be rewarded. This is what communication is all about and why it’s our “Reel Ad of the Week.”

Reel Chicago extends its heartfelt condolences to the Hargrove family.


AGENCY: Burrell Communications

  • Co-CEO: Fay Ferguson, McGhee Williams Osse
  • Chief Creative Officer: Lewis Williams
  • VP Creative Director/Writer: Christine Saldanha
  • Digital Creative Director: Nathaniel Jones
  • Sr. Digital Producer: Carlo Treviso
  • Associate Media Director: Brandi Rand
  • Associate Account Director: Jihan West
  • Editor: Steve Sunner
  • Video Footage: Shot by Jason Hargrove (Courtesy of his wife Desha Johnson-Hargrove)
  • Manager, Broadcast Business Production: Linda Glover
  • Broadcast Business Manager/Traffic/Talent: Adele Green
  • Media: Donna Hodge (VP,Media Director), Adele Lassere (VP Media Director), Linda Jefferson (SVP, Group Media Services)
  • PR: Tracy Anderson (VP, Account Director) Camille Johnson (Communications Manager)

Colin Costello is the West Coast Editor of Reel 360. Contact him at colin@reel360.com or follow him on Twitter at @colinthewriter1