Michael Francis to Join Gap Inc.

Former Target CMO, JC Penney President Will Serve as Marketing Creative Adviser

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Michael Francis is taking on a new retail challenge, advising the Gap Inc. stable of brands.

Michael Francis
Michael Francis
The former Target CMO and JC Penney president will join Gap Inc. on Sept. 17 in an advisory role, Ad Age has learned. According to an executive close to the company, Gap Inc. CEO Glenn Murphy recently announced the news to a select group of executives.

Mr. Francis will be the company's first marketing creative adviser and is expected to spend two weeks a month in the Gap Inc. offices. A Gap Inc. spokeswoman declined to comment. Mr. Francis could not immediately be reached for comment.

Already, the company counts Tracy Gardner, Jill Stanton and Narciso Rodriguez as creative advisers for the Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic brands, respectively. In a post on the company's website earlier this year, Pam Wallack, Exec VP-Gap Global Creative Center, explained the role creative advisers play at the company.

"Under Glenn's direction, we've built on this 'outside in' inspiration through the concept of creative advisers," Ms. Wallack wrote. "Tracy Gardner came back to Gap in an advisory capacity and is already working side-by -side with our talented design team to bring a fresh voice and perspective to the table."

Mr. Francis has long been a power player in marketing circles and will most certainly bring fresh ideas to Gap Inc.'s brands. Old Navy, for example, has been without a chief marketing officer since Amy Curtis-McIntyre departed more than a year ago. Gap works with Ogilvy, while Old Navy's agency is Crispin Porter & Bogusky.

But Mr. Francis will also surely provide insight when it comes to global expansion. He had been overseeing Target 's Canadian expansion before departing for JC Penney last fall. And Gap Inc. has been touting its plans for global growth. For example, last week the company opened its first stand-alone store in Mexico, while highlighting plans for expansion in Colombia and Uruguay.

After just eight months at JC Penney, Mr. Francis left abruptly in June. He had been responsible for all merchandising, marketing, planning and allocation, product development and sourcing. CEO Ron Johnson assumed direct responsibility and oversight of the company's marketing and merchandising functions following Mr. Francis' departure. Though the marketing unveiled during Mr. Francis' tenure was generally well received from a creative standpoint, it didn't boost business. Mr. Johnson has said that the retailer erred in focusing on brand building when it needed to focus on building the business.

Mr. Francis became exec VP-marketing for Target , which has a $1.2 billion advertising budget, in 2001. And in 2008, he added the chief marketing officer title. Mr. Francis began his career in retail as an executive trainee with Marshall Field's in 1985.

During Mr. Francis' time at Target he oversaw some of Target 's best-known ad campaigns, such as "Design for All" and "Hello Goodbuy," as well as the marketing of designer partnerships with Michael Graves, Liberty of London and Missoni. Mr. Francis also overhauled the retailer's agency roster and overall media approach in recent years. He named Wieden & Kennedy as Target 's first lead agency (the pair have since parted ways) and began experimenting with 15-second spots for the popular "Life's a Moving Target " campaign.

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