Memories of Judie Lannon

IPA colleagues reminisce about the late Judie Lannon.

The IPA fondly remembers Judie Lannon, the founding editor of Market Leader, who died peacefully at home last week. With contributions from Paul Bainsfair, Hamish Pringle, Janet Hull, Carlos Grande and Hugh Burkitt.

"IPA memories of Judie are of an extremely approachable, intelligent lady with huge amounts of panache. She was someone you warmed to and remembered. Always exploratory in her thinking, always insightful, always entertaining, always self-effacing. Judie was the epitome of sophistication and charm. Wit and intelligence. She was elegant in looks and in her use of language. A heady combination which meant she was one of a kind. And someone who you looked forward to meeting and whose presence stayed with you afterwards."
Paul Bainsfair, Director General, IPA

"I was introduced to Judie through Mike Waterson at Warc. In the early days of our IPA Effectiveness Seminar series with Warc, Judie was our event chair. I found out then just how knowledgeable and insightful she was about how advertising works, and what a fantastic advocate she was for the IPA Effectiveness initiative. She never lost her enthusiasm, and as her career trajectory took her into the editorial role at Market Leader for the Marketing Society, she continued to be an advocate and champion, always keen to participate in our thought leadership events and report on our thought leadership research and development including the IPA Databank publications. In recent years we became closer, sharing dinner at local haunts in Fulham, before she moved to Chiswick. Judie was one of the greats: ethical, fair-minded, insightful, brave, and a pioneer in pushing the boundaries on advertising knowledge and insight. She will be sorely missed."
Janet Hull OBE, Director of Marketing Strategy, IPA

"When I took over the Director General role at the IPA Hugh Burkitt, then CEO of the Marketing Society, invited me to join the Editorial Board of Market Leader. I agreed readily and offered to host his Editorial Board meetings at the IPA. Judie was Editor/Founder of this journal she had created for the Marketing Society. It was published by WARC, who also had the contract for the IPA Effectiveness Awards cases in hard copy and online. I admit there was an ulterior motive in that having the inside track gave me opportunities to help get IPA members published. But as importantly it was a great to see Judie Lannon on a regular basis. As one of the early planners at JWT, she was extremely well-read across the field of marketing. Virtually every time someone around the table suggested an idea Judie was quick to cross-refer to precedents in the marketing canon. But she did so usually in the spirit of building on a suggestion and making it better. However Judie didn’t suffer fools gladly and didn’t hesitate to call out phoneys and bluffers. The numerous editions of Market Leader are a legacy to be proud of and her leading articles were always rewarding to read. Hugh told me that in surveys the receipt of Market Leader quarterly was perceived as one of the main benefits of membership. While always immaculately turned out, refreshingly she wasn’t obsessed with appearances or worried about status. Rather she was much more concerned with what people had to contribute to the conversation. Judy benefitted many thousands of us with her wisdom and writings."
Hamish Pringle, former Director General, IPA

"As Editor of ‘Market Leader’, the magazine for Marketing Society members, Judie Lannon combined an endless curiosity about new marketing strategies with a scepticism towards faddish and thinly-sourced arguments. Our paths crossed because Market Leader was produced by Warc – where I was the overall editor – and Judie was that rare colleague who never complained about meagre editorial budgets and always met her production deadlines. She worked from home and her few trips to the office were both a delight and a danger: her conversation was so gossipy and charming that before you knew it you easily could find yourself agreeing to write a 1,500 word piece in your spare time for the magazine’s next issue. She bore her husband’s long illness and her own health problems with good grace and was always up for new challenges - once stepping in at the last minute to cover a particularly unglamorous overseas research conference when the commissioned reporter dropped out. It was particularly cruel that Judie’s eyesight failed since she was a well-informed and enthusiastic cinema-goer. In her 70’s, she had even confessed to developing a taste for binge-watching US dramas on her iPad (‘Breaking Bad’, I think was one favourite), breaking her own rule of not watching television during the day 'unless it was for a state funeral or something like that'. Her friends and ex-colleagues will miss her."
Carlos Grande, Effectiveness Editor, IPA

A biography written by Hugh Burkitt

Judie was brought up in Erie, Pennsylvania, and after graduating in psychology at the University of Michigan, she began working in consumer research at Leo Burnett in Chicago. But the majority of her career was in the London office of J Walter Thompson where she was hired by Stephen King to set up their creative research unit.

Judie’s skilful use of qualitative research allowed consumers into the process of creating advertising and she was a major influence on JWT’s work during the era when Stephen King was planning director and Jeremy Bullmore was creative director. She was able to show that housewives cared about brand personality as much as the agency did, and that there was more to selling brands than supposedly persuasive rational arguments and side by side product demonstrations.

It could be argued that JWT’s approach profoundly changed thinking about marketing communications all over the world, and Judie has been described as “a godmother of account planning”. She became Director of Research and Planning for JWT Europe, and was the first woman to be appointed to the board of JWT in 1976.

She established her own planning and research consultancy in 1991, and became a well-known writer, editor and speaker in the field of marketing communications. As well as editing Market Leader she also sat on the editorial board of the International Journal of Advertising. Her published works included “How public service advertising works” for the IPA, and with Merry Baskin "A masterclass in brand planning – the timeless work of Stephen King".

Right to the end of her life she was an acute and stylish observer of marketing communications and a much-loved member of our Society. Recently she had suffered from poor eyesight which limited her ability to read, but she was a brilliant listener and her conversation was as sharp as ever. In the notice in the Times about her passing, her stepchildren have written what so many of us would also feel: 'She was elegant and charming and full of love until her very last breath'.

Judie Lannon, who was the founding editor of Market Leader died peacefully at her home in Chiswick aged 81. 

Attending her service

Her service is to be held at 2pm at St Luke’s, Sydney Street, Chelsea on 3rd September, with a reception at the Anglesea Arms 15 Selwood Terrace, SW7 3QG afterwards from 3pm.

Last updated 21 January 2022