uAspire First One – Jack Connors

By: Chris Loney | Thursday, February 20, 2014

Finances are the #1 barrier that keeps high-potential students across our country from continuing their education and earning a degree. As part of the uAspire First One Awards, uAspire will be featuring stories of individuals who are first-generation college graduates. Despite many challenges – often because of the high costs of college – they persevered and earned their college degree. Their stories show why it’s so important that education remains an affordable option to all, and how uAspire is committed to this effort.

The following story is about Jack Connors.

Jack Connors, Jr. is a founding partner of Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos, Inc., a full-service marketing communications company. Under his leadership, Hill, Holliday evolved from a one-room shop, founded in 1968, to one of the top 20 advertising firms in the United States. Its clients are among the most well-known brands in the world, including Dunkin’ Donuts, Bank of America, CVS/Pharmacy and Cadillac. Hill, Holliday is a member of the Interpublic Group of Companies (NYSE: IPG).

Jack founded Hill, Holliday with partners George “Jay” Hill, III; Alan Holliday and Stavros “Steve” Cosmopulos. With an initial investment of $1,500 each, the four rented space on Newbury Street in Boston’s Back Bay and opened for business. They scrambled to make the office habitable, secure financing and find leads. As Jack said, recalling those early days, “we called everyone we knew.” The fledgling agency distinguished itself by the hustle and hard work of its principals, along with the creativity and fresh look of their work. They finished their first year with $250,000 in gross billings (producing revenue of $37,500) and a staff of 10.

A recruitment advertising project from New England Mutual Life Insurance resulted in the company’s becoming Hill Holliday’s first real client, and three years later, with the awarding of its entire account, the agency’s first national account. The banking industry became their next target, with three banks added to their roster in 1969 and 1970. The State of Maine tourism account, Brigham’s Ice Cream Shops, Southwick Apparel and Charley’s Saloon followed in rapid succession.

Hill Holliday soon also became known for a specialization in political advertising, beginning with the mayoral re-election campaign of Kevin White. They were regarded as one of the premier political advertising agencies in the business during the 1970’s.

Through the years Hill Holliday became the agency of record for many regional, national and international marquee clients, winning creative awards for many of their campaigns along the way. Gillette, Wang Laboratories, Papa Gino’s, Stride-Rite, Aer Lingus, the Massachusetts State Lottery, Infiniti and the Boston Globe are just a few. The company eventually opened offices in Los Angeles, London, Frankfurt, Paris, Sydney, New York and Hong Kong.

Hill Holliday has been known throughout its history as possessing an unusual ability to build and nurture relationships. Much of that is due not only to Jack Connors’ determination to win business, but also to his genuine interest in people. Early in his career, he became interested and active in the philanthropic life of the city of Boston, serving on boards and leading civic campaigns. In fact, throughout Greater Boston, Jack Connors is known for these efforts as well as for his business acumen. Boston Magazine named him one of the most powerful people in Boston, and he’s been a major force behind initiatives such as Camp Harbor View, The Campaign for Catholic Schools, and The Edward M. Kennedy Institute. What’s more, Mr. Connors is an articulate advocate for Boston’s world-class hospitals, and is a passionate and respected voice in the Catholic community for greater lay participation in the Church. Throughout his years with Hill, Holliday, he often used the collective strengths and talents of the agency to make a difference for dozens of charitable organizations.

Mr. Connors served as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Partners HealthCare System for 16 years and became Chairman Emeritus in July 2012. He is a member of the Board of Directors of Partners In Health and the Board of Fellows at Harvard Medical School. He serves as a Trustee of Boston College. Mr. Connors also serves on the Board of Directors of Hasbro, Inc.

Born in Boston, Mr. Connors is a graduate of Boston College and resides in Brookline, Massachusetts. He and his wife, Eileen, have four children and eleven grandchildren.

BS, Business/Marketing – Boston College (1963)

One Response to “uAspire First One – Jack Connors”

  1. Andrea Gauvin says:

    What an inspirational story! As a Marketing & Communications Coordinator (just starting out in my career), I am always interested to hear about people in the marketing/communications field, entrepreneurs and philanthropists who made a difference in their communities through hard work, perseverance and relationship building – and what better example than Jack Connors!

    Also, I don’t know if uAspire ever does stories like this – but although I was not a first generation college student, I was a college student who had to leave and return as a “non-traditional” (i.e., adult) student at age 28, where I managed to get my Bachelor’s degree in a year and a half while working, raising 2 children and maintaining a 4.0 GPA. I would love to share my story to help inspire other women!