Jeff Jones is trading his Target bullseye for an Uber ride. After four years heading marketing at the nearly 1,800-unit retail chain, Mr. Jones will leave the company, effective Sept. 9, to become president of ride sharing at Uber, where he is tasked with marketing and operations.
"Jeff Jones has modernized Target's marketing and helped drive Target's strategy, creating momentum for the company and positioning Target for the future," said Brian Cornell, CEO of Target, in a statement.
The Minneapolis, Minn.-based retailer is conducting an external and internal search for Mr. Jones' replacement.
Known for his marketing prowess, Mr. Jones joined Target as exec VP and chief marketing officer in 2012 after a stint as president of Durham, NC-based McKinney. He also spent time at Gap Inc. and Coca Cola. During his tenure at Target, he helped catapult the brand into shopper awareness with memorable holiday campaigns, such as last year's Odyssey adventure and corresponding Manhattan shopper playhouse, and musical events including a live music video from Gwen Stefani during the Grammy's.
Losing a CMO weeks before the crucial holiday selling season is less than ideal for any retail brand, though Mr. Cornell noted that Target is "well-positioned headed into the important holiday season."
In recent quarters, the retailer, which spent $468.2 million on measured media in the U.S. last year, according to Ad Age's Datacenter, has seen sales slip as it battles fickle consumers and general shopper malaise. Earlier this month, Target reported a same-store sales drop of 1.1% for the second quarter, and a 7% drop in revenue to $16.2 billion, which still exceeded analyst expectations.
After taking a stand by allowing customers to use the bathroom of their chosen gender, Target has also been dealing with some consumer backlash, including boycotts. It recently unveiled new in-house merchandise lines of children's apparel and housewares, both of which have been well-received.