Adland pays tribute to Chrissie Barker

Advertising luminaries remember the former Campaign editor for her keen news judgment, persistence and integrity.

Senior figures from across the industry this week paid tribute to Christine Barker, the former Campaign editor, who died at the weekend.

Her death, aged 52, came just three months after she had been diagnosed with cancer. She fell ill as she was about to move from her job as JWT Europe's head of communications to a similar role at the network's WPP parent.

Born in Perth, Western Australia, Barker quit a university drama course to work as a reporter for the Daily News and The Sunday Times. She arrived in the UK aged 21, and spent some time with The Sun and the Daily Mirror.

At Campaign her background developed the title's news reputation. Bernard Barnett, her former editor, said: "She never let up on a story until she was satisfied she'd covered every angle."

Her storming out of Campaign after a row over a headline in 1989 has become part of advertising folklore.

After a spell as the London Evening Standard's advertising columnist, she joined JWT. Simon Bolton, the former JWT UK group chief executive, said: "Chrissie was my coach, my counsel, critic and my commandant."

Barker is survived by her husband, Mike Townsin, and their two children Luke, 23, and Georgina, 18.

Her funeral will take place on Wednesday 21 June at St Matthias Church, Church Road, Richmond at 1.30pm, followed by a reception at the Richmond Gate Hotel.

Anybody who knew her is welcome to attend. Family flowers only. Donations to Princess Alice Hospice, West End Lane, Esher, Surrey KT10 8NA.


- Sir Frank Lowe founder of Lowe Howard-Spink

"Christine was a pioneer in the early days of Campaign, and to those of us at CDP and BMP trying to start the creative revolution, she was truly important. Christine and the team at Campaign truly believed that they had a mission to help improve the quality of advertising and to promote good agencies, while criticising those that didn't seem to care very much as long as they kept the accounts. She was a leader in advertising journalism."

- John Hegarty worldwide creative director, Bartle Bogle Hegarty

"Chrissie was the first female editor of Campaign and some would say the strongest. As a journalist, she was tenacious without being vindictive, a rare skill. But, most of all, she had a wicked sense of humour which made dealing with her a delight and a pleasure."

- Rufus Olins managing director, Haymarket Brand Media, and Barker's deputy at Campaign

"Chrissie made work fun, even when her back was against the wall. She had a winning combination of energy and good humour which saw her (and all of us) through potentially treacherous situations. She will be hugely missed by me and everyone who worked with her."

- Jeremy Bullmore former chairman, JWT London

"Like modesty, integrity's a quality better demonstrated than professed. I don't suppose Chrissie once used the word about herself, nor did she exude it self-consciously. She just practised it, evenly and instinctively, in everything she did. The world of advertising intrigued her endlessly. She delighted when it was good and inventive and was constructively critical when it transgressed."

- Bill Muirhead founding partner, M&C Saatchi

"My time as chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi coincided with Chrissie's as editor of Campaign. We got along straight away - probably because we were both Australian and fairly direct. She was totally determined to get to the truth. Sometimes she would be the bearer of bad news - a client firing the agency. Her advice (which I follow to this day) was not to try and tough it out - move on. Time will sort it out."

- Maurice Saatchi founding partner, M&C Saatchi

"It is shocking that anybody should be robbed of their life in such a brutal way. That is particularly true when the victim was such a special person who had given so much to her company and her industry. Christine was the living embodiment of her profession - skilful news judgment, landing scoop after scoop each week; tough investigation to get the truth and scrupulous fair comment on those events."

- John Perriss former chairman, ZenithOptimedia

"Chrissie's editorship coincided with the two most enduring media stories - ads on the BBC, the launch of Zenith and the subsequent unbundling of media. Her sense of a newsworthy story was excellent, her charming but persistent questioning tough but fair. Chrissie had an enduring interest in people and talent. Our weekly interchanges were never dull. She will be missed by all who had the privilege of knowing her."

- Robin Wight founding partner, WCRS

"Chrissie remains unforgettable. Not least for the profile she did of me with a headline along the lines of: 'Is Robin Wight as clever as he thinks he is?' At the time I was upset at her skilful slicing of my swollen ego. In fact, she was demonstrating a professionalism that helped build Campaign's reputation well above what is normal for a trade newspaper. She refused to accept the spin of an ebullient adman, and rightly so."

- Sir Martin Sorrell chief executive, WPP

"We were much looking forward to Chrissie joining us at WPP but, unbelievably, it's now not to be. I had the highest possible personal and professional respect for her. She was always well-informed, always incisive, always enthusiastic, always fun to talk to. But our great sense of loss must be as nothing compared to that felt by Mike, Luke and Georgie. We send them our deepest sympathy."

- Mike Townsin husband

"Chrissie loved life and was loved and respected, both personally and professionally, by the many friends and colleagues whose lives she touched. Above all, she loved and cherished her family and I do not have the words to convey how much we will miss her."

Further tributes can be found at:


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