Leo Burnett seeks Stamp successor

Leo Burnett's UK chairman and joint European creative director,

Gerard Stamp, is leaving the network and the advertising industry to

pursue a career as an artist.

He denied the move was related to Burnett's current search for a group

chairman. "Call it a mid-life crisis, call it whatever. It's something

that I've wanted to do for 15 years and now seems the perfect time to do

it," he said.

"Creatively the agency has never been better, but on a personal level

I've found my own creative urges have been frustrated as my involvement

with the agency's creative product has moved further away," he


The Bcom3-owned network is said to be seeking an industry heavyweight to

support its London chief executive, Stephen Whyte. Whyte took up the

role after Nick Brien left to became the president of US corporate

business development at Starcom MediaVest Group a year ago.

The agency has suffered in the economic downturn; its billings in 2001

fell by 15.14 per cent to £100.19 million, according to AC Nielsen

MMS data.

Stamp began his advertising career as a junior art director at BMP in

the 70s. He joined KMP - then Tony Hodges & Partners - FCB and Bates

Dorland, before joining Burnett in 1994 as the executive creative


During his career he created famous work including the Halifax spot

featuring a house made out of people. He also created the McDonald's

"birds and bees" execution.

Stamp became Burnett's UK chairman in 1999, after managing the

transition of the creative department to his deputies, Mark Tutssel and

Nick Bell.

He turned down the chance of working for the agency in Chicago saying

that he was too much of an Anglophile. Tutssel took up the position last


Stamp said he will be maintaining links with the agency through a

freelance capacity coaching craft and art direction skills throughout

the network.

"Many good ideas are let down by craftsmanship. I'll be doing five

week-long training modules to improve some of the offices' creative

output," he said. He will remain a member of Burnett's Global Product

Unit, which scores its entire creative output.

Stamp specialises in painting Cotman-style landscape watercolours from

his home in Norfolk and he has previously displayed his work at the

Royal Watercolour Society at Bankside.

"I thought about getting out of advertising during the last recession.

The prospect of painting for a living is terrifying and I couldn't have

done it without my current financial security," he said.