CAMPAIGN INTERNATIONAL: DECISION MAKERS - CHRIS JONES - The self-assured JWT chairman with a cosmopolitan vision. He’s not a Brit running a US outfit. Chris Jones prefers to call himself ’non-American’ By Harriet Green.

’In the future, there will only be six to eight agencies worldwide,’ Chris Jones, the chairman and chief executive of J. Walter Thompson Worldwide, proclaims. ’There will be a dwindling number of genuine global players who can say to clients like Dell: ’We can do this in Japan, Phnom Penh, Santiago and Dallas, Texas.’’

’In the future, there will only be six to eight agencies

worldwide,’ Chris Jones, the chairman and chief executive of J. Walter

Thompson Worldwide, proclaims. ’There will be a dwindling number of

genuine global players who can say to clients like Dell: ’We can do this

in Japan, Phnom Penh, Santiago and Dallas, Texas.’’



Dressed smart-casually in black, Jones could easily be American (he

pronounces schedule ’sked-yule’). In fact, he’s a Brit who cut his teeth

at Saatchi & Saatchi before joining JWT London and running it as chief

executive from 1990 to 1992. He says: ’People ask me: ’What’s it like, a

Brit running a US company?’ I reply: ’I’m not a Brit, I’m a

non-American, and this isn’t a US company, it’s a global

operation.’’



He’s proud of that, but globalisation does have disadvantages. Last

year, JWT London was forced to resign its lucrative UK-only Esso client

in favour of Shell, a global client. The end of autonomy for local

agencies? Peering down from his Madison Avenue mountain-top, Jones talks

numbers. ’I was running the agency when we won Esso so, yes, I felt

disappointed. I respect Esso as a client, but much as I enjoyed looking

after it, we (only) had its business in three countries and we have

Shell in 40.’



All the same, Jones insists local agencies must win local business. ’In

an ideal world, every JWT agency would have 50 per cent international

and 50 per cent local business. It’s important to have something the

agency got on its own merit; that the people who come through the door

every day have something to do with. It’s important for their

self-respect and pride.’



JWT, he reckons, has an advantage over other major networks: it

assimilates local culture. ’McCanns is very American while Leo Burnett

feels like a bit of the mid-West set down wherever. But JWT in the UK is

seen as quintessentially English, and in the Philippines as an important

Philippino company, where they named 10 November ’JWT Day’ (its

anniversary) and created a postage stamp.’ (Jones doesn’t add that not

every office is doing so well, though he does admit that he’d like

France to be stronger.)



He’s also watching London’s new chief executive, Stephen Carter, with

interest. ’Stephen has done the right thing, although it’s not terribly

PR-friendly to be harsh about your company.



I love this place (JWT London) but now I look at it from 3,500 miles

away.



It’s never bad but it can be really good or it can be OK. Stephen is

saying: ’We’ve been OK, let’s get good again.’’



So what is the future for the domestic agency? ’In the small local

market, there will be agencies like St Luke’s. The challenge for big

agencies, like JWT, is to remain creative and flexible while at the same

time doing what you must to deliver to a Dell, Siemens or Shell the kind

of integrated global service they require.’



Looking ahead, Jones believes the creation of MindShare, WPP’s global

media operation, will benefit JWT. ’I hope it’s going to focus JWT on

its core business,’ he says. However, he insists communications planning

must remain within the agency worldwide. ’We can’t simply say we’ll give

that up and let MindShare do it - though Dominic Proctor (MindShare’s

worldwide chief executive) must do that too if he wants to compete

against the Zeniths or Carats.’



Jones can’t understand British indifference to international

business.



’People are still focused on geography, but this is the way the world is

going.’ Consider Tim Davis, he says, the former head of Young & Rubicam

London, now running Unilever worldwide for JWT. ’He has dollars 80

million in revenue. Unilever’s run just like Stephen (Carter) runs

London. Yet he’s virtually invisible as far as the British press is

concerned. That’s a pity - there’s a generation of Brits having a big

effect on the world.’



FACT FILE



Jones began as a graduate trainee at Saatchi & Saatchi and soon surged

up the ranks to become Charlotte Street’s youngest board account

director at the age of 27



1984: Quits Saatchis to manage the Kellogg’s account for JWT London.

Helps found Kellogg’s worldwide management group for JWT and has been

responsible for the relationship since 1990



1988: Is named managing director of JWT London, becoming chief executive

two years later



1992: Is appointed executive vice-president, JWT Worldwide agency

operations. A year later, becomes managing director, multinational

accounts and, in July 1995, joint president



1996: Becomes chief executive officer of JWT Worldwide and in February

of this year takes on the additional role of chairman.



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