School Reports 2017: Leo Burnett London


Score: 5 
Last year: 6

How the agency rates itself: 7

The weeks either side of Christmas 2015 are ones that Leo Burnett would rather forget, after two major clients reviewed and two of its management trio quit. But hats off to the agency for retaining then The Co-operative, now Co-op in a pitch against WCRS. This was an achievement not to be underestimated; it showed resilience in the face of adversity and provided staff with a much-needed boost.

The injection of new energy and a different creative perspective from Chaka Sobhani was an interesting move. The chief creative officer, who arrived from Mother, is already making her presence felt by implementing more collaborative working practices.

The newly integrated agency (Leo Burnett absorbed the UK divisions of Holler, Arc and Atelier into the parent brand at the end of 2015) won Betsson’s international account and activation work for Nestlé’s Galderma and Mondelez International’s Oreo and Halls.

And, importantly, despite McDonald’s severing its long-standing relationship with Leo Burnett in the US, the UK relationship remained strong, with the agency picking up the digital business from Razorfish. Leo Burnett continued to produce some brilliant work for the fast-food chain – which enjoyed its 42nd consecutive quarter of growth in the UK – including "Juliette the doll", its first Christmas ad for several years.

Ten of the agency’s 12 account losses were small projects coming to an end. It resigned the RNLI business and declined to repitch for Freeview. Leo Burnett attributes its 26% staff decline to the network shifting the servicing of global accounts Phillip Morris and Always to other offices, and a refocusing of the service it offers clients away from in-store sampling, which, proportionally, needs a lot of staff to deliver.

Although Leo Burnett was named Campaign’s Direct Agency of the Year at the Big Awards – not least for its work for charity Karma Nirvana – it was a lacklustre 12 months for the agency overall. Let’s see how a bedded-in management team affects the agency’s creative output and new-business fortunes in 2017.

How the agency describes its year in a tweet

All change as the agency reboots management team and the type of work it is doing for clients.

Score key: 9 Outstanding 8 Excellent 7 Good 6 Satisfactory 5 Adequate 4 Below average 3 Poor 2 A year to forget 1 Survival in question