Burnett merges Hard Reality with Leonardo

Leo Burnett is to acquire the digital agency Hard Reality and merge

it with its direct marketing operation Leonardo, in a move that will see

the Hard Reality brand dropped from the London market.

Burnett bought a minority stake in Hard Reality in November 1998 but has

moved to acquire the agency in order to offer digital and direct

services under one roof. The merged agency will retain the Leonardo


Leonardo's partners, Steve Barton, Chris Cunnane and Gary Sharpen, will

manage the agency alongside the Hard Reality partners, Gabriel Ratcliffe

and Mark Westall. Barton is become the chief executive of the


Though Hard Reality has grown quickly over the past three years, it is

thought that Burnett wanted to have firmer control over its future

direction and add senior management skills to its team. The new

operation claims billings of pounds 30 million.

Barton said that there would be no job losses and no client


Leonardo will continue to be based at Burnett's Sloane Avenue


'Some agencies have got it right, others haven't. We've taken a hard

look at what the competition has done and learned from their successes

and failures. The key is to respect different craft skills and creative

processes, while integrating strategic functions,' Barton said.