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
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
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
"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.