Smithsonian Adds Collection From Ad Pioneer Byron Lewis

Items from his personal and professional life are on display

The Smithsonian's National Museum of American History has added items from Byron Lewis' career to its collections. Lewis, known as the "Godfather of Multicultural Marketing," founded UniWorld Group in 1969.

Lewis and his agency created campaigns for Mars, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, AT&T, Stax Records, Avon, Ford Motor, Quaker Oats and Burger King, among others.

Donations to the collection include personal items, such as a Boy Scouts award, high school yearbooks and his Omega Psi Phi fraternity paddle. Items from his advertising career include awards, campaigns, scripts, artwork and an antique French desk and chair plus three swords used in ads for Mars' 3 Musketeers. (Celebrating author Alexandre Dumas' French and African ancestry, Lewis cast a Black actor as one of the musketeers in commercials during the 1990s.)

"This rich collection that includes archives and artifacts reveals a throughline of creative storytelling, both as reflected in his advertising career and in the materials that framed his interior office décor, and together, they characterize Lewis' intersectional worldview," says Fath Davis Ruffins, curator of the museum's division of home and community life, in press materials.

The exhibition, "Byron Lewis, Ad King Extraordinaire," is featured in the museum's Consumer Era (1940s–1970s) section and spans two cases.

Now 91 and retired, Lewis was inducted into the Advertising Hall of Fame in 2013.

Amy Corr
Amy Corr is senior editor of Muse by Clio.

Advertise With Us

Featured Clio Award Winner



The best in creativity delivered to your inbox every morning.