J. Melvin Muse
Founder and Chairman Emeritus, Muse Communications
A true visionary, Jo’s founding of his agency, Muse Cordero Chen in 1987, was the result of a critical strategic and efficient business need to develop master brand strategies with consumer insights and nuances that would make them relevant across cultures. Jo’s forward thinking created the most efficient process for developing and executing multicultural advertising. Before Muse, virtually all ethnic work was executed in silos as simply either Black, Asian, or Hispanic, totally separate from each other. Muse’s process dubbed “The Zone of Commonality” allowed a diverse work staff to “craft” strategic multicultural advertising—no matter the culture brought together segment expertise under one roof. The shift to Total Market advertising strategies, widely applied today, was a direct result of Jo’s innovative thinking and vision.
Jo’s support of black, Hispanic, and Asian media over the years was instrumental in fostering the success of these multicultural businesses. He helped channel millions of client dollars to these organizations, including BET, Interactive One, and Univision. To extend his knowledge of the business to others, Jo restarted the Los Angeles Creative Club, and helped establish the first minority training program in Los Angeles, and assisted other minority entrepreneurs in starting their own agencies. The increase in employment of people of color in advertising, particularly on the West Coast, was a result of his advocacy. During his career, Jo was one of the most traveled ad agency presidents, burning up the runways, to empower and encourage ad students of the AAF and 4A's programs across the nation. At his own expense, Jo opened the dialogue leading to financial support of Historically Black Colleges and Universities by his and other clients, resulting in more than $40-million dollars for HBCU’s and student scholarships generated through programs he led: The Honda Campus All-Star Challenge and the Honda Battle of the Bands.
A leader in his local community, Jo was selected and served on the board of Rebuild Los Angeles chaired by Peter Ueberroth. He has worked with the Boy Scouts of America, as well as the Los Angeles Visitors Bureau. Jo is on the Board of Directors for The Center Theater Group, LA’s premier live theater organization, and a founding member of the Greater Los Angeles Black Chamber of Commerce.
For 31 years, Jo oversaw the creative development of advertising at Muse. Among his numerous international and domestic commendations for creative excellence is ADWEEK’s designation as the Best Creative Director in the West. The Los Angeles Business Journal selected Jo as one of the top 20 advertising leaders of Southern California. He was also selected Man of the Year by Think LA and, most recently, Jo was presented the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2016 ADCOLOR Awards.
Under Jo’s creative leadership, Muse has won key industry creative awards including Beldings, Clios, Andy’s, Kelly’s, Efﬁes, The One Show, and recognition from the West Coast Art Directors Club, Los Angeles Women in Advertising, California Magazine, the Cannes International Film Festival, a John O’Toole “Agency of The Year” from the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A's) in the Black and Hispanic “Agency of the Year” category, as well several creative awards from the Asian Advertising Association.
In April 2019, Jo sold his agency to another black entrepreneur, William Campbell and Quantasy & Associates. Quantasy continues to carry the mantel of multiculturism in both brand advertising and digital technology.
Jo and his wife, Carol Fox, consider their most outstanding achievements to be son Jordan and daughter Aireka Muse Collins, both with growing careers in advertising and film. Jo recently published his first novel, Mixed Blessings, Is Race Real? and is working on a self-help autobiography entitled From Mississippi to Madison Ave.
Inductee, 2020 Advertising Hall of Fame
Last Updated: January 2020