Harold Smith, a top buyer for Robert Hall, had left the dying company and decided to open his own chain of women’s specialty shops in the growing market of the middle south.

He planned to call them JONNA’S, an anagram of his two daughter’s names. And, he called me and pleaded for Jack Byrne Advertising to take on his small account and promised that if we did, he would give us absolute control of his advertising. Absolute freedom. No restrictions.

I liked Harold. He was not what one calls the dynamic, forward-thinking executive of today, but he was a very nice man, and with him came a ton of experience in the buying and marketing of middle and lower end women’s sportswear.

JBA was on fire at the time. We were growing faster than we had anticipated, faster than we had hoped and, as it turns out, faster than we should have.

I was engaged daily in major conversations with Zayre, Two Guys, K-Mart and Sears about major participation in their advertising futures. I had opened Mall Marketing of America, Media in Motion and had 13 Tony Bennett half-hour TV specials in Jack Byrne Productions syndication in 86 markets in America.

We were only open for three and a 1/2 years and we were very hot, especially in retail.

So, to me and to my wife, Christian, Jonna’s would be a kind of pleasant little diversion, a tiny private gem of advertising which would be all our own.

We would make no “money” from it, but it would be all our own. It demanded radio and we knew radio and we could produce radio within seven feet of my office door and fourteen feet of hers… in our own Radioland Studios.

I said, “Harold…Come on Down!”

So we went to work. We in this case was primarily Christian Cooper, my wife, and I with some help from an art director whose name escapes me at the moment.

We created a concept, verbal and visual and musical and alliterative with the client’s name. The words went like follow:

Jonna’s, Jonna’s,
Jonna’s, Jonna’s, Jing, Jing, Jing.

Jonna’s, Jonna’s,

Where everything is happening…

ANNC: A “JING!” IS A Joy in Saving!, and that’s what you get at Jonna’s! (etc., etc.)

We took the jingle, written to the JADA…JADA, JADA.JADA, JING-JING-JING, song, to Mega Music and recorded Christian singing it, then she recorded all backgrounds for three different arrangements…and, with these Mega Music bases produced a musical bed for the year of advertising….for $800 out of pocket.

Chrisitan Cooper and Michael Davenport (center)

Then, Christian and her favorite co-star, Michael Davenport. teamed up to deliver the pertinent fashion and selling messages each week.

Print advertising was very minimal, but we used billboards heavily that simply said

“J I N G !” … around the corner

‘J I N G” … two miles ahead (or whatever the direction to the nearest store required).

Jonna’s was an instant success. The merchandising was sound. The commercials swept the countryside. From one store, with a plan for a couple of more in a couple of years, Harold had thirteen stores open in less than a year.

The story was quite incredible for the time and was submitted to the American Marketing Association who grants EFFIE awards for Effective Marketing.

JONNA’S and Jack Byrne Advertising, Inc. won the EFFIE for most effective retail marketing in 1973, receiving the award in mid-1974. Three months later, JONNA’S declared bankruptcy and stuck JBA for some $30,000 unpaid fees.

It appeared that Mr. Smith had been so busy opening stores that he had failed to check on the honesty of the managers that he had so quickly chosen to head each new store. As luck would have it, a number of them had trucks backing up to the warehouse regularly, removing the goods and running their own “below wholesale” business on the side.

I guess they couldn’t resist the Joy in Saving.


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