Caroline R. Jones (1942-2001), an African American advertising executive, worked for a number of prominent New York ad agencies and founded her own firm in 1986. She is best known for her work in assisting clients in marketing to minority consumers. The collection includes client files, print advertisements, and radio and television commercials created for a wide range of commercial and public service campaigns.
Scope and Contents:
The collection contains creative presentations, business correspondence, internal memoranda, market research, focus group interviews, production documents, print advertisements, and other documentation for numerous clients at J. Walter Thompson, Kabon Consultants, Zebra Associates, Kenyon & Eckhardt, the Black Creative Group, BBDO, Mingo-Jones Advertising, and Caroline Jones Advertising. The collection has very little documentation of Caroline Jones, Incorporated (1996-2001), but some material exists regarding the shift from Caroline Jones Advertising to Caroline Jones, Incorporated during 1995 and 1996.
Also included are articles and speeches by Jones, including many on the subject of targeted marketing to minority consumers; photographs, awards and publicity; and a small body of personal papers from her childhood in Benton Harbor, Michigan and her experiences at the University of Michigan. The years at Caroline Jones Advertising (1986-1995) are most thoroughly documented and include extensive client files on minority consumer market development for major clients.
The audiovisual materials portion of the collection is substantial and includes radio and television ads created by the agencies at which Jones worked and television programs in which she appeared as a guest and a host.
The collection is arranged in seven series.
Series 1: Personal Papers, 1953-1986
Series 2: Business papers, 1965-1995
Subseries 2.1: Speeches, 1972, circa 1983-1994
Subseries 2.2: Articles, 1970-1993
Subseries 2.3: Subject Files, 1967-1995
Subseries 2.4: Publicity, 1965-1995
Subseries 2.5: Business Journals and Datebooks, 1969-1995
Subseries 2.6: Business, Civic, and Political Organizations and Activities, 1968-1993
Subseries 3.7: Mingo, Jones, Guilmenot and Mingo-Jones, 1977-1987
Subseries 3.8: Freelance Work and Miscellaneous, 1964-1985
Series 4: Caroline Jones Advertising Agency Records, 1987-1996
Subseries 4:1: Client Files and Related Research, 1987-1995
Subseries 4.2: Agency Credentials, 1985-1991
Subseries 4.3: New Business, 1987-1994
Subseries 4.4: Correspondence, 1990-1995
Subseries 4.5: Office Materials, 1990-1995
Series 5: Print Ads, 1964-1996
Series 6: Photographs and Slides, 1950s-1995, undated
Subseries 6.1: Slides, undated
Subseries 6.2: Photographs, 1950s-1995
Series 7: Audio Visual Materials, 1970-1997
Subseries 7.1: Audio cassettes, 1984-1994
Subseries 7.2: Open Reel Audio Tapes, 1970-1984
Subseries 7.3 Videotapes, 1987-1997
Subseries 7.3.1: Agency Reels and Compilations, 1989-1994
Subseries 7.3.2: Television Commercials (Brand/Client specific), 1987-1997
Subseries 7.3.3: Director's Show Reels, 1989-1996
Subseries 7.3.4: Television Programs, 1985-1994
Subseries 7.4: Motion Picture Films, 1970s
Biographical / Historical:
Caroline Robinson Jones (1942-2001) was a highly regarded American advertising and public relations executive. Her work recognized the rising economic power and cultural influence of the black middle class after World War II and contributed to a fundamental shift in American advertising, as mainstream national advertisers sought to reach a consumer market that was increasingly recognized as both economically significant and racially and ethnically diverse. The corporate and public service advertising she created to reach minority audiences stands as a record of our nation's continuing dialogue with race and ethnicity, viewed through the dual lenses of consumption and mass culture.
Caroline Marie Robinson was born in Benton Harbor, Michigan, the third of nine children. In 1963, she graduated from the University of Michigan, where she was active in Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, with a bachelor's degree in English and a minor in Science. She married Edward Jones, a loan officer with the Small Business Administration in 1965, and had a son, Anthony. After college, she was hired by the New York offices of J. Walter Thompson, one of the country's oldest, largest and most respected advertising agencies. Like most women hired by the agency at that time, she began working in the secretarial pool, but she was invited to attend the agency's copywriting school, becoming the first African-American person ever to do so. She remained at Thompson for five years as a junior copywriter on accounts including Ponds, Chun King, Scott Paper, and the American Gas Association.
In 1969, she joined Zebra Associates as Vice President and Creative Director. Zebra, a black owned agency with a racially integrated staff, was among a pioneer group of advertising agencies that specialized in tailoring national ad campaigns to the needs and desires of an urban, black consumer market. She was named one of the Foremost Women in Communications in 1970, and won her first advertising awards in 1971, including one for work on the Southern Voter Registration Drive.
In 1972, Jones went to work as Senior Copywriter at Kenyon & Eckhardt. She later became a partner and Creative Director. While at K&E, she met Kelvin Wall, who recruited her as a senior consultant at Kabon Consulting, another black-owned agency with which she was associated from about 1970 until about 1974. From there she went on to co-found the Black Creative Group. In 1975, she achieved another first by becoming the first woman Vice President of a major agency, Batten, Barton, Durstine and Osborn (BBDO).
Jones remained at BBDO until 1977, when she joined Frank Mingo and Richard Guilmenot as principals in a new agency affiliated with Interpublic. That arrangement offered the firm the financial backing of an international advertising and marketing communications giant. Mingo-Jones specialized in tailoring general market campaigns to a black audience, in creating new campaigns for the black market, and, in some cases, repositioning the product or introducing new products to increase market share. Jones played minor roles advising the Carter-Mondale presidential campaign in 1984 (box 31/folder 13), the Mondale-Ferraro campaign (box 34/folder4), and the David Dinkins New York City mayoral campaigns. She also advised the Jesse Jackson presidential campaign and the PLP party of the Bahamas as part of her public relations work for the country (see,for example, notebooks for September,1984, box 79).
In 1986 Caroline Jones left Mingo-Jones to form her own agency, Caroline Jones Advertising, which she restructured in 1994 as Caroline Jones, Inc. and operated until her death in 2001. Her major clients included the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, McDonalds, and Anheuser-Busch. Jones also created public service advertising for the United Negro College Fund, Healthy Start (pre-natal care), and the Partnership for a Drug Free America.
Caroline Jones received many awards including "Woman of the Year" by the Advertising Women of New York in 1990. She served on the boards of the Advertising Council, Long Island University, the Women's Bank of New York, and on the New York State Banking Board. Beginning in he late 1980s, she produced and moderated "Focus on the Black Woman" for WNYC Radio and hosted "In the Black: Keys to Success" for WOR-TV.
Stuart Elliott, "Caroline Jones, 59, Founder of Black-Run Ad Companies," The New York Times, July 8, 2001.
Judy Foster Davis, "Caroline Robinson Jones: Advertising Trailblazer, Entrepreneur and Tragic Heroine," in Eric H. Shaw, ed., The romance of marketing history : proceedings of the 11th Conference on Historical Analysis and Research in Marketing (CHARM), Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, May 15-18, 2003 Boca Raton, FL : Association for Historical Research in Marketing, 2003. 210-219.
Judy Foster Davis, "'Aunt Jemima is Alive and Cookin'?' An Advertiser's Dilemma of Competing Collection Memories," Journal of Macroeconomics, Vol. 27, No. 1. March 2007 p. 25-37
Materials in the Archives Center, National Museum of American History:
An oral history interview with Caroline Jones is found in Archives Center Collection (AC0367), The Campbell Soup Advertising Oral History and Documentation Project.
The collection was donated to the Archives Center, National Museum of American History in September 1996 by Caroline Marie Robinson Jones.
Collection is open for research.
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Captain Michael Gitt Papers, Acc. NASM.2003.0033, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution.