Brennan Out at Burnett

CHICAGO Leo Burnett Worldwide president Bob Brennan has resigned and there are no plans to fill his post, the agency said.

Burnett global chief executive Linda Wolf said she will now concentrate more on North America, which was Brennan’s focus. Also handling some of Brennan’s duties will be Burnett U.S. chairman and chief creative officer Cheryl Berman.

Wolf said that with Brennan aboard there “might have been a little more than we needed” in upper management at the agency, but insisted his departure was not a Publicis ordered move to cut overhead, as sources have indicated.

Though the agency is not expected to fill Brennan’s worldwide president position, Wolf and Berman will look to simplify the shop’s management structure, possibly filling a regional managing director position overseeing North America and the U.S., the representative said.

Brennan, 44, took the job in 2001, moving from Burnett’s media unit Starcom, where he was chief operating officer. Brennan was seen as especially strong in the area of new-business, where his record at Starcom had been stellar.

Burnett’s new business record in the two years since Brennan arrived, however, has been unimpressive. While the agency picked up an estimated $200 million in new business from Gateway and ConAgra, it has lost an equal amount from Philips Electronics, Delta Air Lines and Polaroid.

Wolf said “new business is the responsibility of everybody and said the agency’s poor record did not contribute to Brennan’s departure.

Brennan’s departure from the Chicago-based Publicis Groupe shop has been expected [Adweek Online, Sept. 22] and follows the exit last month of chief operating officer Stephen Gatfield.

The agency is also looking for a regional managing director for Europe, Middle East and Africa which had been part of Gatfield’s responsibilities, Wolf said. Roger Haupt, president and COO of Publicis Groupe, is providing oversight until that post is filled.

Brennan, who spent a combined 21 years at Starcom and Burnett, was not available for comment. The agency said “he is considering several options.”