Six Things You Didn't Know About Leo Burnett's Judy John

The Toronto Shop's CCO Loves Sleeping, the Food Network and Rabbits that Smoke Cigarettes

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Judy John
Judy John

It's rare at agencies to make the transition from creative to CEO, but Judy John did just that at Leo Burnett Toronto. With a background as a copywriter, she joined the agency in 1999 as chief creative officer, and in March 2011, was tapped for the top job running the shop. Under her, the agency has earned lots of accolades, including winning the first-ever D&AD Black Pencil in the Digital category, and being recognized as the world's most awarded Canadian agency at the One Show in 2011 and 2012.

That's the worky side. But there's also a quirky side to Ms. John, as you'll see in this week's installment of Creativity Online's Six Things series.


1. She's obsessed with Kidrobot toys. Designed by artist Frank Kozik, the rabbit is an urban vinyl toy that became big in the U.S. when the phenomena came stateside in 2003. These cute little guys are known for being addicted to (candy) cigarettes and hating work in all its forms. "I love rabbits," said Ms. John. "But even more when they're smoking."

2. Ms. John's first job probably broke labor laws. Her parents immigrated to Canada from China, opening up a restaurant when the reached North American shores. At just eight years old, she was charged with handing out menus. At 10, she bussed tables, and by 12, she was waiting tables.

3. She works hard, snoozes hard. "I think I could win in a sleeping marathon," she said.

4. She has a "thing" about the Asian happy cat. "It started when someone gave me one for my office. Since then, it's been good fortune and good times," she said. "Now, I carry a pocket size one all the time, especially when pitching. Also before pitching I'll play some Kanye West to get in the mood."

5. The last time she did something crazy to impress someone was in the 5th grade. That's when she gave a boy a giant, 4-foot-tall Valentine's Day card. His parents thought she was a stalker. "That's why I don't do things to impress any more," she said.

6. Ms. John is a Food Network addict. "I watch it when I'm cooking. I watch it when I'm eating. I watch it when I'm working out. Then I watch it when I'm eating after my workout."

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