Wattstax Producer Larry Shaw
With a career spanning four decades, Shaw demonstrated, through his breakthrough art direction and award winning concepts, how advertising could raise the social conscience of marketers and consumers alike. The African-American experience was uniquely interpreted in Shaw's historic creative campaigns for marketers like Johnson Products, Lorillard, Sears, Standard Oil, SCLC/PUSH, and the Urban League.
His creativity and insight has given a generation of Black consumers some of their first self-affirming, culturally relevant appeals. In Spike Lee's Crooklyn, the main character becomes enamored with one of Shaw's Afro Sheen TV commercials. The scene testified to the impact Shaw's "Beautiful People" campaign for the brand had on consumers who at the time rarely saw themselves in a positive light or on TV commercials.
As communications director for SCLC/Operation PUSH, his strategic thinking supported the economic development phase of the civil rights movement. Through his efforts the first Black Expo in Chicago and some of the first major corporate contracts with minority-owned ad agencies took place.
As head of advertising and marketing at Stax Records, Shaw developed the brand internationally through logo development, album covers, advertising and marketing promotions that are still considered revolutionary. His strategic marketing and public relations efforts for the movie and soundtrack of Shaft helped Stax garner an unprecedented Oscar award and nominations, NAACP Image Awards, Addy's, Grammy's and Golden Globe recognition.
As head of the Stax's film division, Shaw, with Stax owner Al Bell, conceived and produced the movie Wattstax. It was Bell and Shaw that provided the movie's critically acclaimed insight in the African American experience.
After Stax, Shaw headed the South's first African American-owned, full-service advertising agency, The Shaw Group. The semiretired Shaw now provides marketing and communications consulting services through his firm, The Able Group, focusing on religious and inspirational oriented communications.