Judd Harner, of Montclair, died at the age of 53 on Dec. 10, 2018, after battling with metastatic melanoma for the last few months.
Mr. Harner went to the Friends Select School in Philadelphia, and then attended Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Communications, where he majored in advertising. In 1988 he moved to New York City, jumping feet first into the agency world at places like McCann, Grey, Griffin-Bacal — where he met his wife Debbie — Messner, Mad Dogs & Englishmen, Ogilvy, and Desgrippes Gobe, where he made his voice heard whether anyone asked or not. It usually paid off to speak up, as he found himself commanding boardrooms in his early 20s. Clients soon wanted him for themselves, and he spent time heading up departments at MTV, Chico’s and S’well. At last, he started his own company, JUDD Branding.
Throughout his career, Judd always insisted on working with clients that he believed in, playing key roles in building brands such as Coca-Cola, Dove, Mattel, Travelocity, Cornell University, American Express, Motorola, Banana Republic, Montblanc, and Credit Suisse to name just a few. But now that he had his own company, he could build his own brand. Most recently, Judd was hired as the chief brand officer at Sterling Brands.
Mr. Harner delivered the following lectures to clients, students and the marketing/branding community at large: “Karaoke Killed the Marketing Star” (The courage to pursue original ideas in risk-averse times), “Baby Pigeons Should Worry You” (How database navel-gazing is obscuring common sense, observation and intuition), “Brand Chaos Theory” (The not-so-precise art and science of planning the unpredictable), “Polar Bears Can’t Tread Water Forever” (Corporations are the key to saving the world… and why that’s okay), and “No One Gives A S—” (To do more, start by expecting less).
He loved technology, nature, art, reality TV, fly-fishing, dancing, outdoor fires and dark bars with loud music. He could be found chopping wood for a bonfire, but would stop in his tracks to ‘beep’ a kitten’s nose or feed a deer. He loved to cook a gourmet meal for 12, but couldn’t resist ordering a good burger. And he’d be more than happy to whittle a knife out of a piece of wood he found, seconds after ordering a $500 watch.
He attributed much of his success and outlook on life to his stepmother, Pat Harner, who passed away two years ago.
Mr. Harner is survived by his wife, Debbie, his children, Drew, and twins Alex and Olivia, his father Richard, sisters Cheri and Susan, and countless members of his extended family.
A memorial service will be held on Thursday, Dec. 20 at 4 p.m. at the Presbyterian Church of Upper Montclair, 53 Norwood Ave. For those coming in from New York City, there is a train station located less than a mile from the church (the Upper Montclair stop on the NJ Transit Montclair-Boonton Line).