Role model art director Godet-Thomas dies

Molly Godet-Thomas, the former senior art director who won a Cannes Gold Lion during a career spanning J Walter Thompson and Publicis - during which time she became a role model for aspiring women creatives - has died aged 68 after a two-year battle with cancer.

Role model art director Godet-Thomas dies

Described as "an art director of prodigious talent" by her former boss, Gerry Moira, Godet-Thomas is remembered for producing some of Renault’s first ads to target women and for introducing ethnic cosmetics using the supermodel Iman.

After her retirement in 2004 she went on to become a prize-winning watercolour artist in Bermuda, where she was born. 

Bailey was right. She could be fierce. But she was also loyal and immensely supportive of young talent. She was also intimidatingly glamorous
Gerry Moira, former chairman and director of creativity at Havas London

A member of one the island’s oldest families, Godet-Thomas joined JWT’s graduate scheme after leaving Hornsey College of Art with a degree in graphic design. She later joined the then McCormick-Publicis, remaining at the agency for the rest of her career.

She won her Cannes Lion for her "Be extraordinary" commercial for Boots No 7. The spot, featuring a woman changing her make-up in stop-frame animation, was regarded as so unusual at the time that it is held in the advertising archives at the New York’s Museum of Modern Art.

Godet-Thomas was regarded as a classic art director to whom type and photography were vitally important. During the 60s and 70s she worked with a string of outstanding photographers including Brian Duffy, Terrence Donovan and Lord Snowden. David Bailey once described her as "a fierce woman in a man’s world".

Gerry Moira, the former chairman and director of creativity at Havas London and one-time Publicis creative chief, said: "I was supposed to be her executive creative director for several years but such was her energy and independent spirit that actually the converse was true. It seems crazy that our industry is still talking about diversity when Molly provided such an exemplar of equal opportunity more than 30 years ago."

He added: "Bailey was right. She could be fierce. But she was also loyal and immensely supportive of young talent. She was also intimidatingly glamorous."

Godet was first married in 1972 to Justin de Blank, a one-time senior JWT manager who went on to become a restauranteur and fine food champion. After their divorce, she married Allen Thomas, JWT’s former worldwide creative director. They remained together until his death in June 2010.

Back in Bermuda during her later years painting became her passion. "Painting wasn’t taught in the art colleges in the 60s, at least not in the trendy London ones," she recalled. "We were somehow just supposed to know how and consequently didn’t."

Her art was on show across Bermuda and in 2012 she was awarded the Charman Prize, a biennial competition open to artists in or from Bermuda. In a tribute at Bermuda’s House of Assembly an MP described her as "a very powerful, creative and wonderful personality".

Godet-Thomas is survived by her children Charlie and Eve.


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