Co-Founder, Merkley Newman Harty

It took a woman with Jane’s restless spirit and sheer British fearlessness to move to New York in 1982. Jay Chiat discovered the creative advantage that planning gave to Boase Massimi Pollit and found Jane, their first planning trainee graduate. This encounter was, in retrospect, a pivotal moment in the history of US advertising. Not only was Jane a woman in an industry just-slightly-evolved-post-Mad-Men but she was a Planner when account planning was unheard of in the US. Now it’s impossible to imagine a world without the consumer insights and strategic muscle of planning, so integral has the discipline become in agencies of all stripes. That is Jane Newman’s legacy.

At Chiat/Day in the 1980’s, she was Jay Chiat and Lee Clow’s “secret weapon.” Newman and her behind-the-scenes planning department helped Clow win multiple pitches, inspire groundbreaking work, and even persuade Apple to run the most infamous and envied commercial ever, “1984.” In the 1980s, Chiat/Day won two Effie Grand Prix and innumerable Golds, and in 1989 was named “Agency of the Year” by Adweek and Advertising Age, as well as AA’s “Agency of the Decade”. Newman herself was named AWNY’s “Advertising Woman of the Year”.

Chiat/Day set an entirely new standard for creativity and client success, summed up by t-shirts worn by staffers “Good enough is not enough.” That was Newman’s brilliance, proving to the industry that “creativity” grounded in human truths creates relevance and far greater impact that leads to “effectiveness”. It was no longer a choice between one or the other.

Newman rose to be President of Chiat/Day New York in 1988, the first planner ever to hold that title in a US agency. Along the way, she hired and trained a whole generation of planners, virtually every one of them has gone on to leadership roles, drilled, inspired and mentored by her. She was the driving force behind the 4A’s Account Planning Committee and the Account Planning Conference. She was Chairman of the Account Planning Group and helped Miami Ad School develop their Bootcamp for Account Planners.

In 1993, she became the first Planner (and one of very few women) to co-found an ad agency, Merkley Newman Harty. The agency was organized around brand teams rather than departments, which was a radical departure from the norm. Nine months later, the agency confounded everyone by winning the IBM PC business, and became one of the fastest growing agencies ever.

She left Merkley Newman Harty in 1998 and found herself embarking on another courageous adventure. By way of a serendipitous encounter with the Samburu tribe, nomads in the Kenyan bush, she founded The Thorn Tree Project, an NGO whose mission is to help the children of Northern Kenya go to school. Today, The Thorn Tree Project provides dorms and full-time school for over 1300 boys and girls, and this year is celebrating their first university graduate.

Newman is charismatic, generous and truly insightful -– an articulate force of nature who fights for ideas and pushes everyone in her orbit to do the same. She has the respect and gratitude of so many, because she is, of course, the “Queen of Planning” in the US.