Bob Jeffrey doesn’t like losing. When the advertising agency exec lost out on some business from long-standing client Microsoft, Jeffrey took it hard, but then moved on strong.

“That was very painful,” he tells Beet.TV in this video interview. “I take everything pretty personally and emotionally. I thought we had done great work. This was a case where I thought it was completely unfair.

Luckily, I’m an optimist by nature – my attitude has always been to never focus on the past, to look forward. My attitude was to just replace the business and move on. What else can you do?”

During his 16-year tenure, including 11 years as Worldwide CEO, Jeffrey shepherded relationships with blue-chip global clients including Bayer, Ford, HSBC, Johnson & Johnson, Kellogg’s, Kimberly–Clark, Macy’s, Nestlé, Nokia, Rolex, Royal Caribbean, Schick, Shell, Unilever, Vodafone and many others.

Once, that future looked tough – when he became CEO of JWT in 2003. “I was faced with a brand that was really viewed as a dinosaur,” he says. “My number-one mission was to keep it alive and contemporary. Getting JWT to its 150th anniversary, I felt a huge sense of accomplishment.”

Today, Jeffrey is still looking forward. At the end of last year, he stepped down as JWT’s worldwide CEO after 11 years in the job. Although he has now stepped back to be non-executive chairman, Jeffrey reckons youngsters entering the industry will get to experience an unparalleled mix of business and creativity that is ripe for even more disruption.

“Today, we say, ‘Look at what Apple did to the music industry’, ‘Look at what Airbnb is doing to the hotel industry’,” he remarks. “In five years – I don’t know who or what it will be – that conversation will happen as it relates to advertising and communications.

“But I see that as a positive thing – creative destruction has to happen with capitalism.


This segment is part of Beet.TV’s “Media Revolutionaries,” a 50-part series of interviews with key innovators and leaders in the media, technology and advertising industries, sponsored by Xaxis and Microsoft. Xaxis is a unit of WPP.

Jeffrey was interviewed for Beet.TV by David J. Moore, Chairman of Xaxis and President of WPP Digital.