McCann Erickson New York chief creative officer Joyce King Thomas will depart at the end of August after 16 years at the agency.
"I've been thinking for a while about leaving the business, trying something else," says Thomas. "With the changes that have happened over the last while, it seemed like the right time." Thomas says she initiated the conversation with the agency about her departure, and says that conversation started even before Nick Brien was appointed CEO of McCann. Brien, who ran IPG's Mediabrands took the reins at McCann early this year, with a perceived mandate to modernize the shop.
Thomas is known as the creator of the long-running MasterCard Priceless campaign and oversaw high profile work for Staples, Nikon and other clients during her 16-year tenure at McCann (see some of her credits here).
Thomas says she's going to take a break before deciding her next move but says she had developed a growing interest in non-profit and education-oriented work. Thomas recently spearheaded a project that saw McCann team with an organization called Citizen Schools to bring a group of kids from Isaac Newton school in East Harlem into the agency over the course of three weeks to develop ads. "It was unbelievably rewarding," she says.
Thomas was one of a select few female creative agency heads - anywhere. She says that fact alone gave her pause when she was considering her move. "That was the only regret for me. There are so few women in this role and now there's one less woman. The business needs to open itself up."