William “Bill” Sharp, retired founder and CEO of Sharp Advertising Inc., is well known in the advertising community for his expertise and achievements in communications, for his community involvement and for his contributions to motivating minority youth. In 1967, he founded and instructed the “Basic Ad Course,” an American Association of Advertising Agencies–sponsored program that prepared minorities for professional careers in advertising. Sharp also wrote and published a book entitled, How to Be Black and Get a Job in the Advertising Business Anyway.
Sharp opened his Atlanta-based agency in 1990 and served regional and national clients such as Southern Company, Georgia Power, Barnett Bank Inc., Burger King, Canaan Shoes Inc., Bell South and the Coca-Cola Company. Prior to opening his own shop, he served as Director of Communications for the Office of Economic Opportunity in Washington, D.C. and held a variety of roles at prominent advertising agencies. He was a Copywriter for EURO RSCG Tatham, Copy Supervisor for Leo Burnett, Group Supervisor for J. Walter Thompson (JWT), and Senior VicePresident and General Manager of Burrell Advertising/Atlanta. He also spent time client side as VP, Advertising Manager at Coca-Cola, managing all advertising for the company’s complete portfolio of soft drink brands.
Sharp was the recipient of numerous awards including, Ad Man of the Year for Southern Magazine and The Art Directors Club of New York Award. He is also a noted lecturer, having served as a consultant and adjunct marketing professor at Goizueta Business School at Emory University. Sharp’s past associations include chairman of the board of the American Advertising Federation, chairman of the National Academy of Engineering Telecommunications Subcommittee on Education, and past member of the Association of National Advertisers board of directors and the Federal Inter-Agency Media Committee that served to recommend communications policies to the president of the United States. Mr. Sharp was inducted into the AAF Advertising Hall of Fame in 2009 and in 2013 received an AAF Lifetime Achievement Award.
While he is no longer with us, his influence remains and his message of diversity in advertising is something we are committed to carrying on.