The Drum's New Year Honours 2015: People we'll miss - Pat Fallon, Tom Adamski, James Howard and Neil Lawrence

Over the week The Drum has been looking back at some of the best agencies, work and brands which made their mark on 2015, as part of our New Year Honours list.

As we reflect on the year that's been we wanted to pay tribute to some of the best and brightest from the advertising, digital and media worlds who sadly passed away in 2015.

Here are the people we'll miss.

The Drum's New Year Honours will be teased out each day over the Christmas period, with the list published in full in our first issue of 2016, published on 13 January.

Pat Fallon

Ogilvy & Mather New York president Adam Tucker will never forget the day he was interviewed for a job by Pat Fallon. “Pat was running late because he’d just fired Northwest Airlines – a significant client. ‘Why did you fire them?’ I asked. ‘They treated our people poorly. It was the easiest decision I’ve made this year,’ Pat replied.”

Fallon was ever a maverick. He co-founded his agency at the heart of the ’81 US recession, with no clients, in then-unfashionable Minneapolis rather than Madison Avenue. The fledgling shop took out a full page newspaper ad appealing to clients who would rather “outsmart the competition than outspend them”, and the outsider mentality paid off as Fallon attracted Rolling Stone, Porsche and BMW on its way to becoming a global creative force.

Pat Fallon’s legacy is not only the fine agency that bears his name, but the reminder that principles and profit can go hand in hand. As Fallon knew well, this is a people business, and advertising has lost one of its best.

Tom Adamski

As a seasoned digital marketer and chief executive of the Razorfish Global Network, Tom Adamski was carving out an impressive reputation for himself within the Publicis empire when his career was cruelly cut short aged just 43.

Adamski’s speciality was in moving the agency world towards a digital-first model, and he was regarded so highly that he served on P12, a committee of top Publicis executives who manage the governance of the overall organisation.

In this role, he had won the admiration of Publicis boss Maurice Lévy, who relished his “joie de vivre”, and Publicis.Sapient chief executive Alan Herrick, who described him as “an extraordinary man who led with integrity and made everyone around him better”.

James Howard

A promising and popular Google marketer, James Howard was just 29 when he died in a tragic accident at the Cannes Lions festival this year.

Though his career was all too brief, the creativity, curiosity and sense of fun so admired by his colleagues live on in the inventive projects he devoted himself to at Google, including Searching Loch Ness, which used Street View cameras to hunt for the famous monster, and Inside Abbey Road, a virtual tour of the famous studio.

“He was so articulate, with these great turns of phrase that I still catch myself using now,” said collaborator James Britton of Stink Digital. “But most importantly, he made me laugh out loud every time we met, without fail.” Fittingly, Inside Abbey Road was awarded a Silver Cannes Lion.

Neil Lawrence

When Australian adman Neil Lawrence died suddenly this summer, the outpouring of emotion told you all you needed to know about his decency and integrity. “A lovely, generous genius,” said Mark Scott, MD of broadcaster ABC, in a tribute that echoed many others.

Though famed for his genial character, Lawrence’s career was built on advertising that packed a punch, such as his campaign against the mining tax – Keep Mining Strong – and his wildly successful Kevin 07 political ads for Labor.

Lawrence was also responsible for the Generation One announcement which saw six million TV viewers tune in for An Address to the Nation about Aboriginal employment. As Labor strategist Bruce Hawker put it: “He captured the moment.”

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