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C.R. Jones; Executive Broke Bias Barriers

July 09, 2001|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Caroline R. Jones, who broke racial and gender barriers as a leader in the field of advertising, has died. She was 59.

Jones, the president and creative director of Caroline Jones Inc., a Manhattan-based advertising and public relations firm, died of cancer June 28 at Calvary Hospital in New York City.

Born Caroline Richardson in Benton Harbor, Mich., Jones was the eldest daughter in a family of 10 children. Jones graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in English and science as she prepared for a career in teaching.

She traveled to New York City in the summer of 1963 to investigate teaching posts. She ended up taking a job as a secretary at J. Walter Thompson--at the time the world's largest advertising firm.

Jones wasn't a good typist and, in reality, had her sights on a different career path. She was moved to the creative department, where she was selected for a junior copywriter program.

She became the first African American trained as a copywriter in the firm's history, which dates to the 1870s.

"Luckily my first boss didn't believe there was such a thing as a junior writer, so she treated us all as senior people," Jones told a reporter for Newsday years ago. "I got to go to meetings with clients and research sessions."

She left Thompson after nearly six years and through the 1970s worked at a number of leading general market and black-owned agencies as a copywriter and creative director.

She was the first black woman elected vice president of a major advertising firm when she joined Batten, Barton, Durstine and Osborn. She also helped found the Black Creative Group and Mingo-Jones Advertising, where she was executive vice president and creative director. It was at Mingo-Jones that she created the "We Do Chicken Right" campaign for Kentucky Fried Chicken.

In the mid-1980s, Jones started her firm, Creative Resources Management, and later ran a number of shops under her name.

Her clients included firms such as American Airlines, Ryder Systems, Greyhound Bus Lines and Lorimar Films.

Jones said that having a good reputation in the industry is just as important as developing a good advertising campaign.

"You're not here just writing ads. Fifty percent of your job is your reputation of doing a good job," she told Newsday. "They are always evaluating the people as well as their ideas. No matter how brilliant you are, if enough people don't like you, you are not going to make it."

She also appeared on television and radio as host of two programs, "In the Black: Keys to Success," and "Focus on the Black Woman."

Jones is survived by son Anthony R. Jones of New York City and seven siblings, including Dinah Robinson of Los Angeles.

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