The Reel Black List: Jim Glover, Creative Director/Writer

Jim Glover

Jim Glover

Jim Glover has worked for general market and black agencies and his work has always been on the cutting edge, which many believe is why he has won so many accolades in the biz.

Jim has had commercials on the Super Bowl, introduced McDonald’s breakfast to America, and convinced conservative Dockers that their khakis were hip-hop dress pants.

He won new African-American customers and awards for Allstate, changed Denny’s perception from being racist to model corporate citizen, convinced kids that “They can do it” when trying out for the Olympics, broke down the wall of Wall Street for the NAACP, used Kanye’s song “Wouldn’t you like to ride?” for Chevy, and conceived urban marketing as a direction for McDonald’s in their general market advertising.

Jim is now founder, President, Creative Director/writer of MultiCultural Creative Consultants (MCC), author of the thriller novel, Mad Man and a screenwriter.

What was your first break?

In the early seventies. I was a young man from Harlem looking for a job because my then girlfriend was pregnant with my first son. I’d heard through an East Harlem anti-poverty program that an advertising agency on Madison Avenue was looking to hire African-Americans “who otherwise would not have gotten the opportunity.” After a grueling process of elimination and a three month wait I got the job.

Worst thing that ever happened to you to remind you that you are Black?

I was working as a cub writer for Needham, Harper & Steers, Chicago. I came back from lunch one day and overheard a white art director speaking with his wife on the phone. “Know what, honey? They’ve got this black guy working in our group and guess what? He’s as good as we are, can you believe that?”

Best thing to ever happen to you to remind you that you are Black?

I don’t know if this qualifies but I was fired from my first job at Y&R, New York because I was still thinking like a Harlem knucklehead. But when I was let go my boss told me, “You will learn from this and five years from now you’ll be doing great in this business.” Less optimistically I said, “Or maybe I’ll be out in front begging you for change.” Almost exactly five years to the day I ran into that boss again at the One Show Awards in New York. When I saw him I was loaded down with so many awards that I had to shake his hand with my pinky finger. He was right, and I proved to him and myself that just because I was black didn’t mean I couldn’t change. I was proud of myself that day.

Work you are most proud of?

A spot I did for McDonald’s called Morning Glory introducing McDonald’s Breakfast to America. Richie Havens soundtrack and no people, just shots of food and morning. It was so sultry and soulful and unexpected in the world of we serve it fast so you can take it slow. It not only is still the spot that scored highest in awareness than any other McDonald’s spot, it won everything and the kitchen sink.

How has the business changed since you broke in?

Honestly, in regards to black folks, it’s worse. In my day every general market agency had some sort of program to train minorities. Most of the blacks in advertising today came from that time. Tom Burrell, Carol Williams, Gene Morris, Bernie Washington, etc. Today there seems to be less blacks on the general market side. Is it out and out racism? Is it because now that there are AA agencies, general market shops think that if you worked in one that you don’t understand the general market? Is it because of the mergers and jobs are just scarce? Yes.

Trapped on an island what are the creative essentials you must have?

My brain.

If you had a time machine, what would you say to your past self?

Stop f*ckin’ around.

If you could have a one-on-one with anyone who would it be? And why?