in conversation with British advertising legends

Judie Lannon

Born: 1938, Erie, Pennsylvania 

Judie studied psychology at the University of Michigan and knew she wanted to work in a big city. After some unfulfilling graduate roles, she ended up in the research department at a toiletries company, where she became intrigued by their advertising company, Leo Burnett Company, Inc. Judie realised that it was research, specifically for advertising, that excited her and she gained a job in qualitative research at Leo Burnett. This went well, but after a while, she longed for something less provincial. 

In the mid-1960s, Judie moved to the London Press Exchange in London. It was a useful stepping stone to the job that made her career, when she was appointed by J. Walter Thompson (JWT) London to establish their Consumer Research Department where she worked with Stephen King who was developing the Account Planning approach using focus groups for research.  In l989, she became Research and Development Director for JWT Europe before establishing her own planning and research consultancy in l991. 

Key brands included Rowntree, such as Black Magic, After Eight and Milk Tray, as well as Unilever, Kellogg’s and Timotei. 

Judie’s interest in the evolution of brands and communication in the digital age led to her launching the marketing journal, Market Leader, where she was editor for 17 years, until recently.

Judie on account planning, “It did an enormous amount to improve the relevance [of advertising] […]  if something either was incomprehensible, or irrelevant, that was weeded out very, very early on.  You could get rid of a lot of junk, before you honed in on what was strategically sound and comprehensible.”