Former Target CMO Francis Lands Consulting Job for Gap

According to a report by Advertising Age, Michael Francis will become Gap’s first creative adviser, and he’ll spend two weeks each month in the company’s offices.

Three months after abruptly leaving J.C. Penney Company, former Target Corporation executive Michael Francis has reportedly landed a new gig.
 
According to a report by Advertising Age, Francis will join San Francisco-based Gap, Inc., in an advisory role on September 17.
 
An unnamed executive “close to the company” reportedly told Ad Age that Gap CEO Glenn Murphy announced Francis’ new role to a select group of executives. Francis is expected to spend two weeks each month in the company’s offices.
 
Francis is best known in the Twin Cities as the former chief marketing officer (CMO) for Minneapolis-based Target—a company with which he has a long history.
 
After becoming an executive trainee with the Marshall Field’s store in Chicago in 1986, Francis joined Target predecessor Dayton-Hudson Corporation in 1990 when it acquired Marshall Field’s. He held a variety of senior marketing positions in the department store division of Dayton’s and was promoted to executive vice president of Target in 2001 and to CMO in August 2008.

Toward the end of Francis’ tenure at Target, he was overseeing the company’s expansion to Canada. Ad Age notes that he also oversaw some of Target’s best-known ad campaigns and the marketing of designer partnerships with Michael Graves, Liberty of London, and Missoni—and he overhauled Target’s ad agency roster and media approach.
 
But Francis abruptly jumped ship last October and headed to Plano, Texas-based J.C. Penney to serve as its president. In that position, he was responsible for all merchandising, marketing, planning and allocation, and product development and sourcing functions. Francis called the J.C. Penney job “a tremendous opportunity for me to get back to department store retail.”
 
But his stint there was quite brief. In June, J.C. Penney announced that he was leaving, effective immediately, but offered no further details. CEO Ron Johnson said only: “We thank Michael for his hard work at J.C. Penney and wish him the best in his future endeavors.”
 
Francis’ departure came at a time when J.C. Penney was battling a significant drop in customer counts and declining sales. In February, Johnson implemented a new “fair-and-square,” three-tier pricing strategy designed to eliminate hundreds of sales events in favor of everyday lower prices. But it received a cold reception from consumers—who were accustomed to coupons and big markdowns. (The retailer has since tweaked its strategy to add more clearance events and better communicate its new pricing to customers.)
 
Francis will be Gap’s first marketing creative adviser, although Gap has hired a number of creative advisers to provide insight in other areas, Ad Age said.
 
In fact, earlier this year, Pam Wallack—executive vice president of Gap’s Global Creative Center, which aims to centralize creative resources—explained the role that the company’s creative advisers play through a post on Gap’s website.
 
“Under Glenn’s direction, we’ve built on this ‘outside in’ inspiration through the concept of creative advisers,” she wrote. “[Former J.Crew President] Tracy Gardner came back to Gap in an advisory capacity and is already working side-by-side with our talented design team to bring a fresh voice and perspective to the table.”
 
Francis joins Gap—which operates Banana Republic, Old Navy, and its namesake stores—at a time when it appears to be turning itself around after a period of sluggish sales. Net income for the second quarter that ended July 28 rose 29 percent to $243 million, or 49 cents per share, and sales climbed 5.6 percent to $3.58 billion. In conjunction with Gap’s announcement about its second-quarter results, it raised its full-year profit guidance for the second time since May.