School Reports 2012: Leo Burnett

There was a significant amount of activity at Leo Burnett between the promotion of Paul Lawson to chief executive in January and the departure of the vice-chairman John Poorta in December.

Recent Leo Burnett work - McDonald's
Recent Leo Burnett work - McDonald's

Score: 7

Agency fact file: Leo Burnett
Type of agency Integrated
Company ownership Publicis Groupe
Key personnel Andrew Edwards chairman and group CEO
  Paul Lawson group deputy CEO and CEO, Leo Burnett London
  Justin Tindall group executive creative director
  Giles Hedger group managing director
Nielsen billings 2011 £234m
Nielsen billings 2010 £243m
Declared income £45m (2010)
Total accounts at year end 35
Accounts won 8 (biggest: Freeview)
Accounts lost 2 (biggest: BlackBerry – resigned)
Number of staff 317 (+6%)

In particular, Leo Burnett put an emphasis on beefing up its integrated credentials. Under the leadership of the ex-chief digital officer Marc Giusti, the agency's spending spree comprised the social media specialist Holler and the digital creative agency Airlock, giving the group a suite of added value and specialist services.

Justin Tindall, who arrived from The Red Brick Road in 2010 as the executive creative director, also began to put his mark on the agency's output. Few observers were surprised when Jim Bolton followed Tindall's predecessor Jonathan Burley to CHI & Partners, but Tindall moved quickly to replace him, hiring his former creative partner Adam Tucker as the creative director.

While work for McDonald's went from strength to strength (a particular highlight was a silver Lion at Cannes in the Effectiveness category for "McDonald's for everyone"), its inaugural spot for Freeview was also a real head-turner. The capture of Freeview was a new-business highlight and the agency's decision not to repitch for Littlewoods also looked vindicated when the online retailer's Christmas spot registered as one of the worst campaigns in recent memory.

Other wins included digital briefs from Nokia and Renault, the social media for Innocent and the International Committee of the Red Cross. However, BlackBerry left the agency after Burnett Chicago resigned the global business.

With the creative product in good shape, and a compelling and well-rounded offering for clients, 2012 should be about converting more new business.

Score last year: 6

How Leo Burnett rates itself: 7

"The Leo Burnett group is truly integrated. We are made up of Leo Burnett (the ad agency); Arc (shopper/retail/promotions); Lime (experiential); LeoSports (sponsorship activation); Atelier (luxury/style specialists). During 2011, rather than, as some other agencies have done, buy a big digital agency that becomes our digital offering, we looked at what we already had and what we would need for future growth. We acquired the social media agency Holler and the digital creative agency Airlock. Our digital specialists now number 85 and rising ..."

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