Edelman brings on Leo Burnett's Judy John as chief creative officer

The firm's latest creative hire was most recently North American chief creative officer and Canada CEO at Leo Burnett.

Judy John
Judy John

TORONTO: Edelman has named Judy John, North America chief creative officer and Canada CEO at Leo Burnett, as its first global chief creative officer.

John will be based in Toronto and report to president and CEO Richard Edelman, when her hire is effective on April 29. She will be in charge of Edelman’s creative network, which is comprised of 600-plus creatives and planners globally.

"Her basic idea is that it was time for Edelman to have a global chief creative officer," said Edelman, who explained that he’s met with John several times since last summer.

Most of John’s time will be spent on client work, said Edelman.

"My feeling is everybody at Edelman is an account exec," he said. "She’s not coming here to be an administrator. Plus, her whole thing is leading from the front, just like me. I work on clients as well."

John’s hire is the latest move by Edelman to strengthen its creative chops after hires from agencies including DDB Canada, McCann, MullenLowe, and R/GA, Edelman said in a statement.

Edelman explained that five years ago his firm decided to lead creative for brands and corporations when appropriate.

"We started on this path about five years ago," he said. "The trunk of the tree is the solid business we have in PR, both corporate and brand PR. And the first addition to that was in digital. And then the digital people started to hire creatives and then the PR people started to use the creatives in their work."

The hiring of John and other creatives will support Edelman’s "Earned Creative" initiative, which differs from traditional creative functions in that it is geared toward social media, works on a news cycle timeframe, and is tied to social causes, said an Edelman spokesperson.

Andrew Bruce, CEO of Publicis Communications, North America, acknowledged John’s departure in a statement describing management changes at the agency. "We thank Judy for her incredible contributions over the years and helping to build a strong foundation and world class team," he said. "We wish her all the best in the future."

At Leo Burnett, John was a driving force behind the #LikeAGirl Super Bowl campaign, Amazon’s first Super Bowl ad, and Samsung’s first global Olympic campaign, among others, according to Edelman’s statement.

John also sits on the board of Girl Culture Films, the company started by the director of the #LikeAGirl Super Bowl commercial, Lauren Greenfield, and was the chair of jury for the 2017 Brand Film Festival New York.

John has also chaired juries at international award shows including the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity and the Clios, according to Edelman’s statement.

John’s tenure at Leo Burnett began in 1999, when she started as SVP and chief creative officer. Previously, she worked at Ogilvy & Mather and Guerilla TV. John began her career as an associate creative director and writer at Toronto agency Taxi Advertising & Design.

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