Two Cranfords and Peacock Leave CJRW in Latest Departures

by Luke Jones  on Monday, May. 5, 2014 12:00 am  

The shakeup continues at Cranford Johnson Robinson Woods: Last week three executives, including two of the Little Rock ad firm’s namesake Cranfords, resigned.

Ross Cranford, Jay Cranford and Denver Peacock continued CJRW’s string of departures that began last year.

Chief Public Relations Officer Richard McKeown told Arkansas Business that the company “doesn’t normally comment on personnel issues.”

In a brief conversation with Outtakes, Ross Cranford allowed that he and his brother Jay left “over philosophical differences about the future direction of the company.” He declined to comment further on the situation.

Ross Cranford, formerly one of the firm’s vice presidents, and Jay Cranford, who was a senior vice president and chief creative officer, are sons of Wayne Cranford, who co-founded CJRW and is now on its board of directors. Their brother, Chris Cranford, remains on the company’s website. He was reportedly out of the country when his brothers resigned, however, by Friday his employment status on Facebook had changed to "former creative director at Jones Film Video."

Peacock, who was senior vice president of public affairs, declined to comment on his reasons for resigning. He had recently applied for the vice chancellor for governmental relations position at the University of Arkansas, but was not chosen as a finalist.

Jay Cranford could not be reached for comment.

Lately, CJRW has been wrestling with a changing industry, with a number of staff members leaving to join or found smaller ad firms.

In February, CJRW named northwest Arkansas publishing industry veteran Darin Gray as its new president. Gray is a past chairman of the Arkansas State Parks, Recreation & Travel Commission. CJRW’s largest client is the Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism, worth $8.4 million this year.

Not long after Gray’s hiring, Scott Caldwell, the company’s senior vice president for marketing services in northwest Arkansas, resigned to join Catapult Marketing, a Connecticut firm with offices in northwest Arkansas.

McKeown said the company was “in the process of replacing” those employees who left, and, indeed, the company announced last week that Brian Rudisill and Denise Davis were hired in CJRW’s northwest division as president and director of operations.

CJRW, traditionally a powerhouse in the tourism industry, had been among the companies being considered to represent the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock. However, Leslie Taylor, vice chancellor for communications and marketing, told Outtakes that UAMS will next month recommend Swanson Russell of Lincoln, Neb., for the job.

Taylor said the contract’s estimated value was $670,000. UAMS has not hired a marketing firm in more than a decade.

“We did some work with The Communications Group years ago, but nothing to this extent,” she said. “They did help us with our tagline and some commercials. Then we have used Cranford for some other things in the past but not for advertising. We’ve done a lot in-house.”



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