UniWorld Group, Inc., the first full-service multicultural advertising and communications agency in the U.S., announces the retirement of its Founder and CEO, Byron Lewis Sr., and the appointment of its new CEO, Monique L. Nelson. Mr. Lewis will now become Chairman Emeritus of the award-winning agency.
“I have spent my entire career working to present positive portrayals of people of color across communications platforms, including print, film, radio, TV and beyond. At the same time, UniWorld has opened doors for many of today’s top advertising and media professionals of color. I am extremely proud of the agency and all that it has accomplished in its 43-year history,” said Byron Lewis Sr. “I have been impressed by Ms. Nelson since she joined the agency five years ago. She understands the business very well. And, it is my honor to turn over UniWorld to her very capable hands as she leads the agency in its next exciting chapter.”
Mr. Lewis founded UWG in 1969 during a time when minorities were not represented in a positive manner in mainstream media. Nor were minorities employed within the major Fortune 500 companies or Madison Avenue advertising agencies. Centuries of negative and stereotypical portrayals of minorities severely damaged minority and mainstream audiences alike. During the late 1960s and ’70s, the federal government initiated a series of Affirmative Action mandates for major corporations and communications companies to hire minorities to help offset these negative social conditions. Mr. Lewis was able to take advantage of these mandates and launch UWG.
Throughout the years, UWG has created award-winning and impactful campaigns for such clients as the Ford Motor Company, U.S. Marine Corps, Eastman Kodak, AT&T, Burger King, Colgate-Palmolive, Pepsi-Cola, and The Home Depot, to name a few. He also is known for creating successful media properties including the nationally syndicated television news program, America’s Black Forum, that aired in 100 markets; Sounds of the City, a nationally syndicated radio program created for Quaker Oaks; and the highly successful American Black Film Festival, which continues to this day.
In 2000, Mr. Lewis formed a strategic alliance with WPP, the world’s largest communications services groups, sharing and collaborating on a number of clients. Sir Martin Sorrell, WPP Group CEO, commented on the transition: “we have always admired and respected and have been proud of Byron and his tremendous achievements at Uniworld. Monique has a lot to live up to, but we’re certain she will!”
Today, UWG is headquartered in Brooklyn, New York, and has satellite offices in Atlanta, Georgia, and Dearborn, Michigan. Known as one of the “founding fathers of multicultural advertising and marketing” in the United States, Mr. Lewis built a company out of necessity and ended up changing an entire industry in the process.
Monique L. Nelson joined UWG in 2007 after a successful marketing career, both in the U.S. and internationally, at Motorola. Ms. Nelson managed UWG’s integrated marketing, digital and branded entertainment departments and has successfully grown them over the past five years. As a professional brand marketer, she specializes in leading multimillion-dollar globally integrated marketing programs that drive sales, brand awareness and competitive advantage. She has over 15 years of marketing experience in entertainment, lifestyle and youth marketing, new brand strategies, consumer insights and global brand management. As the new CEO of UWG, Ms. Nelson is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of the agency as well as leading its expansion.
“Multicultural advertising grew from a need to address the complexities of a unique and underserved market. As this discipline progresses, I am honored to be leading the charge at UniWorld in developing the next evolution of multicultural advertising, not only in the U.S., but around the world,” stated Ms. Nelson. “As multicultural communities increase in size and complexity, never has the need or possibilities been greater for the agency’s capabilities to provide its unique cultural insights for a better understanding of how diversity is reflected in our society.”