Fairfax Cone began his career in 1929 as a copywriter in the San Francisco office of Lord & Thomas, predecessor of Foote, Cone & Belding. By 1939 he was a vice president, manager, and in 1941, he was transferred to the New York office where he fulfilled the duties of creative director. A year later he found himself in Chicago as manager. His name went on the door in 1943, when Lord & Thomas discontinued operation and Cone joined with Emerson Foote and Don Belding to establish Foote, Cone & Belding (FCB). Initially he served as chairman of the executive committee, later as president and chairman of the board until his retirement in 1970.
The author of With All Its Faults, a candid account of his 40 years in advertising, and The Blue Streak, a collection of memos to the FCB staff, Cone challenged he advertising world to fight for honest and ethical advertising. It was Cone who said, "good advertising is written from one person to another. When it is aimed at millions it rarely moves anyone."
Cone’s goals were not showy, decorative awards for the agency, but rather for straightforward campaigns that placed clients firmly in first place in their sales categories.
Cone held the position of chairman of both the American Association of Advertising Agencies and the Advertising Council. He was also deeply involved in his community as a member of the board of trustees of the University of Chicago, and as director of Chicago’s Lake Front Fair, the Chicago Association of Commerce and Industry, and the Chicago Community Fund. He was inducted into the Illinois Business Hall of Fame in 1976.
Cone’s influence on the industry is summed up in an excerpt from Advertising Age: "Fairfax Cone was and is a one-of-a-kind guy...a first rate copywriter, an excellent administrator, and a man of enormous commitment to society...He brought a sense of humor, kindness and unstuffiness to his friends and associates and to the advertising business as a whole which will not be quickly forgotten."