By EDWARD HUSAR
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
Quincy native Jack Klues is getting ready to wind down his high-flying career in the world of advertising and digital media.
Klues plans to retire at the end of this year as CEO of Vivaki, a digital and media agency network owned by the Paris-based Publicis Groupe, a major advertising and media company.
However, he won't be stepping aside completely. Klues, who turns 58 this week, will spend the first part of 2013 charting a new course for Vivaki, which he has headed since 2008.
Then, finally, he will begin easing himself into retirement after a 35-year career with what is, at its heart, the same company he joined in 1977 upon graduating from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign.
Klues was fresh out of college when he landed a job as an account executive trainee for the famed Leo Burnett advertising agency. Klues would go on to become a media supervisor with a spinoff of Leo Burnett, and he later took on other leadership positions within the evolving company -- even after Leo Burnett merged with another privately held advertising agency, the D'Arcy Group. This newly combined agency came to be known as Bcom3 for a few years until 2003 when Publicis Group acquired Bcom3.
"The big asset (in that acquisition) was Leo Burnett and the media agencies that I had been responsible for," Klues said.
In 2005, Klues was named chairman of Publicis Groupe Media, the management board that oversees Publicis Groupe's media networks.
Three years later, Publicis Groupe acquired the world's biggest digital specialist agency, Digitas. Soon afterward, the CEO of Digitas and Klues were asked to create a structure within the holding company where Digitas and the media companies Klues was responsible for would come together "to accelerate our digital evolution from a marketing perspective for all of our businesses," Klues said.
That's how Vivaki came about.
Now, four years later, another evolutionary step within the conglomerate is about to take place, with Klues again playing a major role.
Klues has been asked to help establish Vivaki as a separate business unit that's more streamlined, efficient and accessible to all 12 separate entities within Publicis Groupe.
"That will be my job for as long as it takes," whether it's three months, six months or some other time period, he said.
Despite the many changes that have taken place within the corporate hierarchy, one thing that hasn't changed for Klues is his loyalty to the firm that first took him under its wing in 1977 -- Leo Burnett, which remains a key subsidiary of the Publicis Groupe.
"I've had the good fortune of working for what really, in my mind, always has been at its heart the same company," Klues said. "It was a place that was geared to rewarding loyalty and rewarding commitment from a remuneration perspective."
Klues, a son of Verda and the late Roy Klues, spent his childhood through young adult years in Quincy. He graduated in 1973 from Christian Brothers High School, now known as Quincy Notre Dame.
"I really give the school a lot of credit for setting me on the right path and making sure I did the right things in college and the like," Klues said. "I had a very good high school experience at Catholic Boys."
His parents were both heavily involved in the school. His father played a big role in fundraising activities to support the Catholic high school, and his mother worked at the school for a number of years as bookkeeper.
In his later years, Klues established a "Raider Pride" scholarship program at QND on behalf of his family.
"We were blessed to have the wherewithal to set something up, and I really wanted to do it not so much for me as the Klues family -- for mom and dad and my sister. I just happened to be the one who could write the check."
Klues' father and his sister, Kathleen Ann Klues Putnam of Fowler, both died earlier this year, which reinforced his desire to start easing into retirement so he could spend more time with his family.
Klues' mother lives at Sunset Home in Quincy. Meanwhile, Klues and his wife -- the former Beth Dittmer, also a Quincy native -- live in Arlington Heights. They are the parents of two grown children, Jordan and Corinn.
Klues said working in advertising and digital media allowed him to travel the world on countless occasions and attend numerous glitzy events, including a dozen or so Super Bowls.
"But it often required me to put family members second," he said.
"While that sounds crass and harsh and somewhat sad, it has been a fact that I've had to ask them to take a back seat often, whether it be my wife or my children or my mom. So in that regard, it was probably time before it gets much later in my life to put the people who are closest to me first."
Klues said he's not yet sure what he will do once he retires for good.
"I may always have some ties to the Publicis Groupe, it just may not be 24-7 as it has been," he said.