NEW YORK (Adage.com) -- Joyce King Thomas, one of the industry's few female chief creative officers and one of the masterminds behind Mastercard's famous "Priceless" campaign, is departing her longtime post at McCann Erickson, New York.
Her exit comes as the agency's new CEO, Nick Brien, is trying to put his stamp on McCann while trying to retain clients such as Verizon that have been looking elsewhere for advertising help. According to people familiar with the situation, Ms. Thomas -- perhaps seeing the writing on the wall -- indicated to McCann she intended to leave several weeks ago, but it was kept quiet by her and senior executives such as Thom Gruhle, the head of McCann, New York, as they informed clients about her departure.
A McCann spokesman said, "Joyce has made it very clear that she wants to stay here until the end of August so she can provide continuity on all the client business she's involved in and all of her own projects and initiatives. Joyce is an amazing talent and huge personality and has done so much for McCann, New York."
A search for her replacement at the Interpublic Group of Cos. agency has begun but is likely not to be completed for several weeks.
Here is the internal note she sent out to staffers this morning that was obtained by Ad Age:
From: NY News (NYC-ME)
Sent: Friday, May 28
Subject: Note from Joyce
After 16 years, I've decided to leave McCann at the end of August to pursue some of my other passions.
Agency years are a bit like dog years. And 16 is a long, long time.
In that time, a lot happened: my sons grew into men; we managed to make some famous work-- the Easy Button, the priceless campaign, Nikon Picturetown, and more; we fought hard for (and occasionally, with) an impressive roster of clients; and, I got to know a lot of you really well.
Which is why it's so hard and so easy to leave.
Hard cause I'll miss you terribly. And easy because I know you'll do a great job taking McCann into the future. You guys always rise to the occasion.