Charity Charity, one of the leading female advertising creatives of her generation, who became worldwide creative director of JWT, has died at the age of 62.
“She was deeply intellectual, wickedly mischievous, strikingly elegant and a real force of nature,” Dominic Proctor, a chief executive of JWT in the 1990s, told Campaign.
She joined JWT in 1982 at the age of 22, after studying English at Oxford University, and spent 25 years at the agency, which became part of WPP in 1987 and was one of the biggest agency brands in global advertising at the time.
Charity rose to become UK creative director, launching the "Red dress" campaign for Kellogg's Special K in 1997 and "Crunchy nutters" in 2002 for Kellogg's Crunchy Nut Cornflakes.
She also launched the global "Talking puppy" campaign for Andrex in 2003 and looked after Unilever, one of WPP's biggest clients, in her global role.
Charity was something of a female pioneer with most agencies being heavily male-dominated when she started, even though “copywriting was traditionally a female profession” until the 1950s, she recalled in a retrospective article about women in advertising in The Drum in 2018.
“I got into JWT by taking a 10-question copywriting test and arrived for my first day of work – no interview, no training – in Mum’s mink coat in February 1982. One of the questions was 'Describe the inside of a ping pong ball'; my answer: ‘See attached sheet’ (I left the sheet blank).”
Advertising was in its heyday in the 1980s, as agencies such as Saatchi & Saatchi and JWT were among the biggest names in business.
“My starting salary was above the national average wage. By the end of my first day I had an office overlooking Berkeley Square, a fridge for my beer, and a secretary called Elaine. I was 22,” she said.
“The other girls in the department were all secretaries – Jean, Melanie, Mimi, Angie, Joanne, Danielle – sassy, funny, quick as whips: the [mostly male] creatives gathered around them for their inspirational one-liners and reactions to the work. Those secretaries should have been copywriters too.”
William Eccleshare, global chief executive of Clear Channel, who worked at JWT from 1978 until 1995, told Campaign: “Charity’s unmissable presence caused a sensation on the day she arrived at JWT and she absolutely over-delivered on that initial promise.
“She was a true original and always an absolute delight to work with.”
Proctor, who went on to be president of Group M, said: “JWT was a real brand leader in those years and Charity epitomised that brand. She was deeply intellectual, wickedly mischievous, strikingly elegant and a real force of nature. She had a presence that was simply impossible to ignore.
“Charity was a real star. She stood for everything which makes advertising a wonderful profession to be in, then and now.”
Following her time at JWT, she joined Euro RSCG London in 2007, where she was global creative director responsible for Reckitt Benckiser brands including Dettol and Finish.
She later became global creative director at Saatchi & Saatchi in 2008, working on Procter & Gamble’s Head & Shoulders account.
In recent years, she did communications work for a number of charities.
WPP merged JWT with Wunderman to form Wunderman Thompson in 2018.