Before Jeff Jones became the new CMO at Target, before he was the President of McKinney and before he was CMO at Gap, Mr. Jones was my partner in creating and running a stunning little shop inside Leo Burnett called LBWorks. When I saw the news of Jeff’s latest illustrious appointment I couldn’t help remembering those halcyon days in both our careers.
Long story short, Jeff was the guy who convinced me to take on a struggling B2B/technology company at Leo Burnett called TFA. I don’t recall the full name of the company but we later joked it was Totally F**king Awful. Like everyone else in Adland, Burnett was trying to shore up its creds in the B2B and technology space. TFA had been an acquisition toward that goal. And it was failing.
Previously, I’d been looking for something more to do inside the company… Don’t get me wrong. Running a creative group built around the Altoids campaign was probably the best job in advertising. My creative partner (the brilliant Mark Faulkner) and I were in a really great place. But I hungered for a new challenge. And it came to me in the form of a baby-faced account man, barely 30 years old, named Jeffrey Jones III.
I’m not blowing smoke when I say Jeff was the main reason I took the job. He was deeply persuasive, in an earnest sort of way. When he told me we could fix TFA, I knew in my bones he wasn’t bullshitting. When he told me B2B could be just as awesome as consumer advertising, I believed him. The trade press would question my appointment as this new entity’s Chief Creative Officer but, buoyed by his confidence, my own doubts were short lived.
We fashioned the agency as a mash-up of “old school and new tools” called LBWorks. In a marathon session, I wrote the credentials for our company, populating my office wall with text and propaganda. Jeff was cool with all of it, and my cluttered walls literally became the pages of our website.
LBWorks took off and became a bright, shiny thing at Leo Burnett. We breathed life into TFA’s few remaining clients and won a bunch of new ones…big ones. Soon, a handful of tortured souls became a robust group nearing one hundred. As LBWorks President & CEO, Jones was a straight shooter, always upbeat and dynamite in a meeting. The perfect straight man, we killed together.
LBWorks was magical, in some respects surpassing Altoids as the thing I’m most proud of. I believe Mark would tell you the same thing. I suppose we brought something to the table but make no mistake there would be no table without Jeff Jones.
And now Target. Wow. Dude. That’s a seriously big job with big shoes to fill. Michael Francis was a rock star. But now it’s your turn in the spot light and I’ve no doubt you’ll shine. You always have.