Naked co-founder John Harlow passes away

John Harlow

John Harlow

John Harlow, one of the world’s most original media thinkers, has passed away.

Harlow died after suffering a hemorrhage in hospital in the UK, a close friend and former colleague has confirmed.

Harlow is the co-founder of Naked Communications, a strategy agency he launched with Will Collin and Jon Wilkins in 2000.

Naked turned the media agency model upside down by offering pure media thinking without the buying.

In a tribute to Harlow, Wilkins said: “John was one of my best friends, and a total inspiration.”

“When we set Naked up we wanted to create a home for the brilliant misfits of our industry. John was one of the most brilliant.”

“The world will be a poorer place without him,” he said.

In thirteen years, Naked has become a global brand, with offices in Singapore, Tokyo, Sydney, Melbourne, Minneapolis, New York, Copenhagen and London.

The agency was acquired by Photon Group – now known as Enero – for $38m in 2008.

Harlow joined The Brand Agency in Perth as director of communications planning in March this year, but only spent a brief period with the agency before returning to the UK. He had since been living in Brighton, England.

He was described by Fast Company magazine in 2005 as a “scruffier-looking James Dean with piercing blue eyes”.

Former colleague Mike Wilson, who was until recently Naked’s chairman for Australia and New Zealand, wrote in an opinion piece on “It’s hard, because everyone will also know someone, or know of someone, who has died far too young – just 45 in John’s case – and who has been devastated by alcoholism.”

Robin Hicks


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