CLOSE-UP: NEWSMAKER/MARK TUTSSEL - Burnett London's dream creative marriage is over. Tutssel's task is to recreate Leo Burnett's UK success in the US, Jeremy White writes

For two contrasting reasons, Cannes 2001 will forever mark a

turning point in the career of Mark Tutssel.



After a string of awards, Tutssel's six years at Leo Burnett London

reached their zenith in June when he walked off with three gold Lions

for the agency.



Along with Nick Bell, his fellow creative director and professional

partner, he had finally reached the point he had been struggling to get

the agency to for all that time.



It was then that he found out that Bell was considering a defection to

Lowe Lintas. Bell had left it until he was three weeks into talks with

Lowe to tell Tutssel - and then only because Campaign was about to blow

the whistle. Tutssel was rightly upset.



"Disappointed? Yes, obviously," he says. "It's a marriage, basically,

and we have been together for six years and those have been six

incredible years. It came out of the blue - it was a shock and I was

disappointed.



I'd lie if I said it wasn't. But Nick had to consider it and quite

rightly took his time. I respect that. It took time and it was painful -

I was judging Cannes at the time, so in that sense it clouded that

experience, but ..." Here Tutssel trails off. It is palpably and

understandably painful for him to talk about the period.



He brightens considerably when talking of the new job, that of deputy

chief creative officer and vice-chairman of Leo Burnett USA. He is

looking forward to the change and is undeterred by the prospect of

working Stateside.



"The common denominator is ideas. The whole idea that they produce

different types of work over there is not the case any longer," he says.

"Obviously, it's a much bigger department with more than 200 creatives

and its billings are a lot higher - but the basic principles apply, the

working practices will be the same." His arrival at the agency is part

of a senior management restructure that saw the chief executive Bruce

Brinegar resign last week.



The agency wants to tap into the recent success of the Bell/Tutssel

partnership.



"It wants exactly what we have achieved in London - great creative," he

says. "With great creative comes great business success." Tutssel is far

from humble about his record at the agency. He calls Leo Burnett London

the "jewel in the crown" of the network. Apart from the multiple awards

and then Cannes, the London operation was nominated agency of the year

internally.



Does he foresee any problems with the new job though? "The problems will

be the same ones we faced in London six years ago -getting the

multinationals to buy great creative work. It worked in London and,

hopefully, it will in Chicago. It will take time and won't be an

overnight success. It's a case of focusing the agency on creative

output, business and brand building."



He also doesn't see the change in title - the addition of "deputy" - as

a step down. "Oh no. It's a step up, if anything." Why? "It's a

title.



My actual job is a partnership with Cheryl (Berman, the chief creative

officer and chairman in the US) working together as one - so it's

virtually the same relationship I had with Nick. It'll just carry across

to Chicago."



Tutssel wants Leo Burnett Chicago to be the best agency in the network.

To do this, he'll have to compete with Bell.



When you ask Bell about the impending split with Tutssel, he takes deep

breaths and is awkward, but honest. He understands his partner's move:

"There wasn't any difference in roles in the early days but things did

evolve. I tend now to be very involved in the work and spend a lot of

time with the clients. Mark over the past 18 months has been heavily

involved with our quarterly international get together of the creative

staff. He's started to play much more of an international role."



Although Tutssel categorically denies that Bell's talks with Lowe had

anything to do with his departure, Bell is not so sure. "I know that he

was disappointed. He was an absolute gentleman about it. I was very

worried because there was my partner and my mate sitting there and it

was an extremely difficult time for him. All the fuss was about me and

here was a partnership and suddenly one guy gets approached. How big a

part did it play? I don't know, I can only speculate. Possibly it was a

critical turning point where Mark looked at things differently after

that."



Bell generously says that the UK agency will be poorer for Tutssel's

leaving. "We've lost a man with an enormous passion for great work, a

mate and someone who was supportive and someone who is a Leo Burnetter

through and through. We're losing a lot of good qualities. He's going to

go into Chicago commanding an awful lot of respect - and so he

should."



He's quick to point out that he expects the UK to keep up the good work,

however. Bell says that he'd resign if he thought the creative standard

would slip.



Has the friendship survived? "Absolutely," Bell fires back. "I spoke to

Tuts this morning and I'm going to the football with him next time he

gets back over here." Tutssel is due to take up his new role on 1

January but already seems to be spending most of his time across the

Atlantic.



Any impatience is perhaps understandable, given his experience so

far.



"It took six years in London to bring about change," he muses. He thinks

it might take just as long in the US.



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