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Naked’s John Harlow, a pioneer of ‘media neutral’ approach, dies aged 45

John Harlow

The global communication industry mourns the sad demise of John Harlow, Co-Founder, Naked. Credited as the driving force behind the agency, Harlow went on to become one of the most respected names in the global communication industry for his ‘media neutral’ approach.

It is understood that he died over the weekend in a hospital near his home on England’s south coast.

Industry professionals have expressed their grief on various platforms.

Sydney based, former Naked executive, John Halpin tweeted, “Sad to hear of the passing of John Harlow. He was a force of nature and you’ve got to respect anyone who says no to Martin Sorrell’s cash”

London based Gravity Road’s Founder Mark Eaves tweeted, “Sad news about John Harlow. A rare talent”

While Harlow’s impact on the UK media and creative scene was significant, over the years his former company had made a mark on various other markets as well. In partnership with Will Colin and Jon Wilkins, Harlow had founded Naked Communications in London. The agency went on to become a global brand with offices in the US, Asia Pacific, Europe and Australia, before the founders sold the company to the Australian marketing services group Photon, in 2008, for USD 36.7 million.

Naked Communications was the first agency to build a large business around the idea that clients could be persuaded to pay for smart media thinking without needing media buying to go with it. Under Harlow’s leadership, the company was said to have established communications planning as a discipline on its own. Naked Communications embraced all of the previously separated marketing disciplines such as advertising, PR, digital, experiential, direct, content and in-store to develop ‘media neutral’ marketing strategies.

In March last year, Harlow had resurfaced at the Australian shop The Brand Agency as Director of Communications Planning in Perth-based role. With 23 years experience in the advertising industry, Harlow was once nominated as the number one media thinker in the United Kingdom.