Klues receives 2022 College of Media Distinguished Alumni Award

Jack and Beth Klues
Jack and Beth Klues.

Jack Klues (BS ’77, advertising), who has led some of the largest media companies over his 35-year career, has been selected to receive the 2022 College of Media Distinguished Alumni Award. 

The award honors an alum whose career accomplishments and engagement with the College of Media are exemplary. 

Klues has been a major supporter of the college. In 2015, the Klues Family Foundation donated $1 million to the Charles H. Sandage Department of Advertising to fund scholarships for underrepresented students with significant financial need, helping 60+ students since then. He has also participated on the James Webb Young Board, a professional advisory board for the Sandage Department of Advertising, taught an advanced media strategy class in the mid-1980s, and regularly recruited Illini talent.

“I'm just so impressed and gratified and honored to represent the college because it continues to be so forward-thinking, as it relates to instruction and education in the space,” Klues said. “That availability and that connection to the professional media industry is so powerful and yet unique to the University of Illinois.”

“Throughout his career, Jack Klues has been an advocate for the inclusion of a variety of voices and ideas, and his generous gift supports diversity in the industry by providing opportunities for advertising students in need, whether it’s financial scholarships, paid internships, or experiential learning experiences,” said Dean Tracy Sulkin. “Jack continues to drive the industry forward and we’re thankful for his commitment to higher education.”

Klues called his time at Illinois “a great launching pad for a professional career.” He began at Leo Burnett as an account executive in the media department, where he worked on planning and placement for companies like Pillsbury and Green Giant. By 1996, he was part of a management team that created a media services agency under Leo Burnett called Starcom, one of his career highlights. 

“I have to put that high on my list of accomplishments—something I will always remember,” Klues said. “And it taught me that I have the right career path and choice.”

Leo Burnett merged with another media agency, DARCY, in 2000. Their media company, Mediavest, was part of a larger merger that resulted in the formation of the Starcom Mediavest Group, where Klues was the global CEO. When Starcom was acquired by Publicis Groupe in 2003, he became the global CEO for Publicis Groupe Media. From 2007 until his retirement in 2012, Klues was CEO at VivaKi, one of the first fully digitally-integrated agencies.

For more than two decades, Klues has served in a variety of leadership roles related to education. In his retirement, Klues established Mentridge, a mentoring program for college graduates entering the job market. He has been involved with Off the Street Club, Chicago’s oldest boys and girls club, for more than 25 years, including serving on the board of directors and acting as vice president of fundraising.

Learn more about Jack Klues’s career and his connection to the College of Media: Klues gift helps diversify advertising industry by opening doors for minority students 

—Vivian La, Communications Intern