'Role model' Jones, 59, dies

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The death last month of Caroline Jones, president and creative director of the trailblazing New York agency that bore her name, robs the advertising industry of one of its true pioneers. Ms. Jones died June 28 of cancer in New York City at the age of 59.

As an African-American woman who worked her way up the creative ranks of major New York agencies, and who eventually went out on her own as principal of several well-regarded specialty shops. Ms. Jones had a unique career.

"Her importance in the industry was not fully understood," said Ted Pettus, VP-associate creative director at Chisholm-Mingo Group in New York. "There are all too few role models for African-American men and women in this business, and Caroline was one of them."

Her storied agency career began at J. Walter Thomp-son, New York, which she joined as a secretary in the early 1960s. She worked her way into the agency's creative training program and became a copywriter. Upon leaving JWT, Ms Jones worked at BBDO Worldwide, New York, before forming Zebra Associates at Kenyon & Eckhardt (now part of Interpublic's Bozell Group) and the Black Creative Group. In 1977, she became a principal in Mingo, Jones, Guilmenot, later renamed Mingo Jones.

By all accounts, Ms. Jones was a polished, intelligent and articulate professional with a bent toward perfectionism who understood her groundbreaking position. "She was definitely aware of the influence she had, and she was always gracious about it," said Judy Lotas, partner in Lotas Minard Patton, New York. Ms. Lotas served on numerous industry associations and awards show juries with Ms. Jones. "I can see how many women looked up to her."

"It meant a lot to me to see this black woman sitting in an office at a major ad agency in the mid `70s," said Yvonne Durant, an African-American copywriter who was mentored early in her career by Ms. Jones, before moving on to creative posts at BBDO, McCann-Erickson and other agencies. "This told me that I could do this as well."

Ms. Jones worked with powerhouse clients such as McDonald's Corp., American Express Co. and Anheuser-Busch. While at Mingo Jones, she supervised the creation of the "We do chicken right" campaign for Kentucky Fried Chicken, which the fast-food chain adopted as its general market slogan. It was one of the rare instances where a creative concept developed by a minority agency crossed over to serve as a brand's mainstream message.

Ms. Jones was born in Benton Harbor, Mich., and educated at the University of Mich., Ann Arbor. A scholarship program in her name was established there several years ago, according to her son, Anthony R. Jones. Diversity in advertising was a key issue for her, and she helped organize a landmark conference hosted by the Rev. Al Sharpton to introduce mainstream marketers to minority agencies.

Plans for a memorial service for Ms. Jones in New York are pending, her son said. The agency, Carloine Jones Inc., will continue to operate, with Mr. Jones, an account executive, serving as president and CEO. "We plan to continue her name and her legacy," he said. "We want her to continue to be a role model for future generations."

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