Target CMO Departs for JCPenney

Michael Francis, Who Led Marketing at Cheap-Chic Retailer for a Decade, Becomes President for the Department Store

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Michael Francis
Michael Francis

After a decade at the helm of Target 's marketing, CMO Michael Francis is leaving the company to join JCPenney.

His departure is effective immediately, and he will join JCPenney as president, effective Oct. 4. In his new role, he will report directly to CEO Ron Johnson. He will be responsible for all merchandising, marketing, planning and allocation, product development and sourcing. JCPenney continues to search for a chief marketing officer to replace Mike Boylson who departed this summer.

"[Mr. Francis] is an extremely talented executive with the vision and courage to re-imagine the department store experience," Mr. Johnson said in a statement. "His ability to innovate and deep understanding of the industry will be invaluable as we set out to transform JCPenney into America's favorite store."

A Target spokeswoman said that a new CMO has not been named and that Mr. Francis' direct reports will report to CEO Gregg Steinhafel in the interim. "We will certainly be looking at a more permanent solution. But we feel confident, because we have a strong management team in place," the Target spokeswoman said. "We have a very sound strategy and a strong pipeline of innovative leaders."

During Mr. Francis' tenure he has overseen 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, most recently, Missoni. He also had a hand in Target 's experiential marketing, such as a vertical fashion show, which saw models traipsing down the side of 30 Rockefeller Center.

As Mr. Francis navigated the cheap-chic retailer through the recession, he overhauled the retailer's agency roster and overall media approach. He named Wieden & Kennedy as Target 's first lead agency and began experimenting with 15-second spots for the popular "Life's A Moving Target " campaign.

Mr. Francis has long been a power player in marketing circles, with Target 's $1.2 billion advertising budget under his control. He became exec VP-marketing for the retailer in 2001, adding the chief marketing officer title in 2008. Mr. Francis began his career in retail as an executive trainee with Marshall Field's in 1985. In 1990, Marshall Field's was acquired by Dayton-Hudson, which renamed itself Target Corporation in 2000. Target eventually sold Marshall Field's to May Company (now Macy's ) in 2004.

"This is a tremendous opportunity for me to get back to department store retail. I began my career working on the sales floor of the State Street Marshall Field's store in Chicago," Mr. Francis said in a statement. "It was there where my passion for retail began and my understanding of the power and potential of the department store was formed."

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