ST. JOSEPH — JohnsonRauhoff, a St. Joseph marketing and advertising agency, has named its next family president for the third time since it was founded in 1969.
Mason Johnson will serve as president of JR, taking over for Jackie Huie – Johnson’s sister – who will move from president to CEO for JohnsonRauhoff. In the former role of CEO is company founder, Don Johnson, who moves to chairman of the Advisory Board.
A fourth family member, Dawn Williams, will hold the title of executive vice president of the creative agency, which includes on its account roster BOSCH, Newell Brands, Sur La Table and Whirlpool.
In his new role, Mason Johnson will focus on the overall business and account activation, while overseeing the JR Management Team. “It was a big decision to transition leadership of JR, but we have been talking about making these moves for a long time and the timing just seemed right,” Huie said in a news release. “We feel very fortunate to be in a position to make these moves now, while active family members are able to make a high impact at various levels.”
When his parents started the business in the basement of their home, Johnson accompanied his mother to several client meetings.
As the company grew from the basement to corporate offices, Johnson remained interested in JR through high school and college.
“I can’t remember a time when Mason wasn’t somehow connected to the business,” said Don, Johnson’s father. “It seems like he’s always been here, passionate about the creative process, caring of the team and pushing new technologies.”
Johnson became a summer intern at JR as a student at Lakeshore High School, working across all areas of the company. Johnson accepted scholarships to attend Tri-State University. He transferred to University of Hilo, Hawaii and then to the American Academy of Art in Chicago.
After graduating from the academy in 1994, Johnson returned to Southwest Michigan to begin his marketing career at JR. Given a retail client assignment to convince holiday shoppers to skip Thanksgiving and shop early for Christmas, Johnson worked with Disney animators to create a wise-talking, con-artist turkey.
The spot was successful in driving retail sales early and gave JR its first Gold Telly Award for broadcast.
“I could see areas that were rapidly growing and jumped on the opportunity to develop the capability in JR,” Johnson said. “Now, successful global brands are coming to Southwest Michigan to produce brand content, because we can produce it better, faster and more economically, which is pretty cool.”