Rebecca F. Williams, VP/Group Creative Director, Burrell

Rebecca F. Williams, VP/Group Creative Director at Burrell Communications, joins the 2020 Reel Chicago Black List, a celebration of African-American creativity published during Black History Month.

The Reel Chicago Black List includes Global Mixx founder Mary Datcher, McDonald’s US Marketing Director Lizette Williams, and filmmaker Rhyan LaMarr. To view the archives, click here.

Rebecca F. Williams has been creating award-winning, innovative brand campaigns for a far-reaching range of mainstream and ethnic products and services for over 20 years.

Her adaptive and energetic style has garnered numerous awards from the Association of National Advertisers, Ad Age and the Telly, Effie, NAMIC and Addy awards.

As VP, Group Creative Director at Burrell Communications Group, she leads the vision and development of national campaigns for QSR giant, McDonald’s.

ALSO READ: McDonald’s star studded ‘Black & Positively Golden’ launch


Meet Rebecca F. Williams

What did you originally want to be when you grow up?
Hah! An actress, architect or Child Psychologist. I’m a creative soul so it went back and forth between the three a lot.

How did you get into advertising?
I was working in PR, taking acting classes and doing a retail job on weekends. I’d always loved advertising and when an opportunity came up for an internship at UniWorld in New York, I applied.

Who were your mentors?
When I was a little girl, I’d hang out with my best friend and we’d color in the basement. The markers were always a little dry, but across the room was a desk with rows of brand new markers. When I asked why we couldn’t use them, she responded “Oh my Dad uses those for business.” I decided whatever her dad did, that’s what I wanted to do when I grew up. Her dad was Tom Burrell, founder of the agency where I am today. My first break and the mentor I learned from early on though was Byron Lewis, another pioneer in the ad industry. Byron had an incredible entrepreneurial spirit and was a staunch advocate for women. I started there as an intern and every time I left, Byron would hire me back until he finally made me CCO!

ALSO READ: McDonald’s spot shows love in a big new way

What is your greatest achievement?
Staying optimistic and raising four kids who are creative, compassionate, hilarious and really fun to be around.

What is your greatest disappointment?
I think my biggest disappointment is that the industry has changed so much. Clients used to see agencies as valuable and trusted partners. They were invested in the products they sold and the process was much more collaborative. We actually had time to come together and make great work.

Name your biggest peeves?

Hate that word. I’ve come to really respect people who try to find solutions to challenges instead of immediately saying something can’t be done.

What are your predictions for the advertising industry over the next decade?
Micro-targeting. Advertising is becoming increasingly customized, constantly looking for ways to get into consumers hearts and minds to get them to experience their brands. Our business is becoming more “Psyche-graphic” everyday.

Name a job you had that would surprise people.
I worked for Cytodiagnostic Laboratory, staining slides in the lab for technicians to study.

What Marvel or DC superhero do you get to play?
Ohhhhhh, that’s a good one. I’d love to play Scarlett Witch, she’s got the power. Or maybe Phoenix, cause I’ve got that dark side.

What do you wish you had more time to do?
I wish I had more time to see the world. I love visiting other cities and seeing other cultures, hearing languages, tasting food, seeing landscapes, art and architecture that are new to me. There’s never enough time to explore.

What drives you to be extraordinary at what you do?
Curiosity and commitment.

Congratulations, you built a time machine! What do you go back and tell your 15-year-old self?
Never stop investing in yourself. It’s so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day grind that we forget to replenish our minds and our souls. That’s what keeps creativity alive, being a vessel for things that are new and different and astonishing.