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Caroline Jones Blazes a Trail from Mad Men Era Secretary to Agency Founder

There are some stories the hit show Mad Men didn’t tell. Perhaps most notable is that of Caroline Jones—the African-American secretary turned copywriter trainee turned advertising executive.

Jones was the first black woman to be hired as a copywriter at J. Walter Thompson agency in the early 1960s, one of the nation’s leading ad firms at the time. She was so good at changing how Americans thought about some of the world’s most popular brands with her sharp, insightful writing that she was promoted to Creative Director within weeks.

Jones always insisted that advertising should focus on the target’s emotions, not just the products themselves. Some of her most successful work was for the Campbell Soup Company, featuring headlines that hit on shared cultural truths and used African American models to show how the soup fit into the lives of everyday families.

A pioneer writer who thought about her work from a nuanced, consumer’s point of view, Jones went on to join Zebra Associates, one of the nation’s first African-American-owned advertising agencies, and founded a series of ad firms herself, including Mingo-Jones and Caroline Jones Advertising.