Qantas CEO leads tributes to adman Neil Lawrence

By AdNews | 16 July 2015
Neil Lawrence

The tributes have flowed in overnight for the talented and extremely popular adman, Neil Lawrence, after his passing was reported yesterday afternoon.

Leading the tributes, Alan Joyce group CEO for Qantas said that Lawrence was one of the best storytellers this country has ever produced.

“He had an incredible understanding of human nature and the Australian mindset, and he was able to express it in a way that no one else could. His passing is a tragic loss for his family and a deep, deep sadness for everyone who ever had the pleasure of knowing him,” Joyce said.

Lawrence was the creative mind behind 'Feels like Home', Qantas's first brand campaign in years, which has been very successful for the airline since its launch in November.

STW CEO Mike Connaghan described Lawrence as a "titan of the industry" and said that he was " Always insightful. Always direct. Always leading." 

“Neil Lawrence was a titan of our industry. We will miss him terribly at STW. Neil became a very important figure at STW. We had big plans. We will see those through. We are fortunate at STW to have a few people who are the go to people when the BIG questions come our way. Neil was always there. Always insightful. Always direct. Always leading. He understood people and he understood brands. Most of all he understood how to connect the two. He saw through bullshit and didn’t suffer fools. Neil’s work and impact on our country will live on well beyond us all. Neil was a man fitter and healthier than most, it is too early an ending to a wonderful life. Neil went out doing something he loved with someone he loved. Our thoughts are with Neil’s beautiful family. We will honour him properly at the appropriate time“

Joint campaign director for Recognise, Tanya Hosch, also expressed her shock and profound sense of loss at the death of Lawrence.

"Personally, and on behalf of the whole Recognise team, I extend our deepest condolences to Neil’s family. He was a gifted, committed and thoroughly good man,” Hosch said in a statement.

Lawrence worked with Recognise to create a brand and campaign for the peoples movement to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Australian Constitution.

“Neil was a good friend and a passionate supporter of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. He applied his huge talents with great generosity helping us try to achieve justice, equity and an honoured place in our own country.

“Neil was a creative advertising talent without peer, but he brought more than just skill and creativity to his work. He brought passion and conviction. The television ads he created for the Recognise campaign are gold standard examples of these qualities brought to life,” she added.

Principal of independent marketing counsel WalkerMoult and former Ogilvy executive chairman Tom Moult used an anecdote to describe Lawrence.

"Neil, was very competitive and was a famous 'faller-outer'," Moult said. "Having fallen out with Neil was a badge of honour in the days when the whole industry seemed to live in each other pockets in North Sydney.

"About twenty years ago it was my turn; we managed to get our knickers into a twist over something far over something too trivial to go into. But Neil was aware of this habit of his and was also a great 'maker-upper'.

"After a couple of months of frostiness, he called me up just before Christmas and said, "I'd hate to go into next year not being friends, let's have lunch!" It was quite a long one as I recall and we never suspended our friendship again."

Many took to Twitter yesterday afternoon to express their sadness at the loss of Lawrence, Labor Leader Bill Shorten, ABC Boss Mark Scott, and Kevin Rudd's daughter, Jessica Rudd, were among some of the people who tweeted their condolences. You can a few of them below.

The Lawrence family has also released a statement saying: “We are in deep shock at the tragic loss of our father and husband who was a friend and inspiration to so many people. Our only consolation is that he was doing what he always has done, which is living life to the full.”

You can also see some of his key campaigns here.

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