17 Saatchi Staffers Quit in Wake of Burns’ Departure

NEW YORK Seventeen staffers at Saatchi & Saatchi here resigned this week in the wake of the agency’s split with Mike Burns, a vice chairman and worldwide account director on key client General Mills.

The employees came from different departments, including creative and account services, but all worked on General Mills. Saatchi, a Publicis Groupe agency, handles creative duties on brands such as Cheerios, Total, Wheaties, Lucky Charms, Yoplait, Pillsbury and Green Giant.

The client spent $630 million on ads last year, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

The agency confirmed that 17 staffers left and issued a brief statement that said, in part, “While the recent departures are unfortunate, we remain confident in our ability to service this important client. We will continue partnering with them to create big ideas that transform General Mills’ brands and take the business to even greater heights.”

Sources said the employees resigned on Monday, three days after New York CEO Mary Baglivo and executive creative director Tony Granger said in an agency memo that Burns was “leaving” and “looking forward to the prospects of other life and career opportunities.”

Burns, who spent 25 years at the agency, on Friday said he was mulling several New York-based career options; he did not elaborate.

Also, Saatchi said Baglivo and a quartet of senior group account directors would absorb his account duties. Sources said some of those executives were among those who quit.

Beyond confirming that Baglivo and Granger have taken over leadership on the account, client representative Tom Forsythe offered no comment on the departures of Burns and other account staff at the agency.

Burns could not be reached on Tuesday, and two calls to Baglivo were not immediately returned.