Carol H. Williams
Since 1986, Carol H. Williams has been the brainchild of one of the country’s most progressive advertising and marketing companies. As president, CEO and chief creative officer of Carol H. Williams Advertising (CHWA), Williams oversees a bevy of advertising and marketing accounts that recognizes and speaks to African Americans and urban markets. With offices in Emeryville, California (near San Francisco), Chicago and New York, Williams has guided CHWA to become the largest African-American, female-owned advertising and marketing agency in the world.
In addition, Williams and her creative team have produced award-winning advertising and marketing campaigns for Fortune 500 companies, such as General Motors (GM), Nissan, General Mills, Hewlett-Packard, Procter & Gamble, the U.S. Army and Walt Disney.
GM recently retained Williams’ company to spearhead the auto giant’s Cadillac luxury account. Previously Williams successfully developed impactful multicultural market strategies for both Cadillac and GMC. “We had the opportunity to work with GMC, who introduced the concept of ‘professional grade’ to the African-American audience,” recalls Williams. “We demonstrated it through the African-American lens with a campaign utilizing Muhammad Ali as the epitome of professional grade, and the idea moved the needle in the market place.”
Williams is known for creating advertising and marketing campaigns for clients, often asking the simple question, “Whose eyes are you looking through when you view the world?” The thought provoking question has become CHWA’s motto. “It was inspired by the necessity to recognize what are people’s motivations. What do they care about? What is going on in the context of their lives?” explains Williams. “A strong brand’s cues and symbols, its experiences and narratives engage our cultural imagination. There are stories we tell ourselves, about who we are and could be, even if the artifice is very short lived, it has tremendous identity value.”
Prior to starting CHWA, Williams’ talents were showcased at Leo Burnett Company in her hometown of Chicago, where she quickly rose in the field of advertising to become its first female and African-American creative director and vice president. After a 13-year stay at Leo Burnett, followed by a two-year stint as senior vice president and creative director at Foote, Cone & Belding in San Francisco, Williams founded CHWA.
Although she heads one of the nation’s top advertising and marketing entities, Williams loves lending her talents to organizations that empower African Americans socially, culturally, educationally, and economically. The RainbowPUSH Coalition, the Congressional Black Caucus and the NAACP are just a few.
In addition, Williams is the recipient of dozens of awards and honors, such as the Lifetime Achievement Award (U.S. Dept. of Commerce), The Legend Award (AdColor), Woman of the Year Achievement Award (California State Assembly), and the 50 Most Powerful Women in Business (Black Enterprise).