Burnett Cements Chemistri Ties

Five months after losing both its chief executive and its chief creative officer, Publicis Groupe’s Chemistri is attempting a new business model with closer ties to Leo Burnett to take better advantage of the larger agency’s offerings.

The new setup entails that Mark Tutssel, Burnett’s deputy chief creative officer North America, will be more directly involved in the overall creative product, retaining creative oversight of Chemistri in Detroit. In addition, Tutssel said he is no longer seeking a Detroit-based CCO.

As a result of the initiative, Chemistri last week named Bertrand Garbassi—most recently co-creative director at WPP Group’s Young & Rubicam in Dearborn, Mich.—executive creative director on the $200 million Cadillac account. Garbassi, 45, assumes various duties that had been handled by former CCO Gary Topolewski, who left in May to join Omnicom Group’s BBDO in Detroit. (A month later, Chemistri CEO Pat Sherwood also left.)

“There’s been a revolving door,” said Chemistri COO Stan Fields, who reports to Burnett worldwide president Tom Bernardin. “In some ways, that been very good for the business, but on the flip side, it caused some tumult.”

Tutssel’s positioning establishes a “creative corridor” between Detroit and Chicago, Fields added.

“It’s felt like one agency,” said Cadillac marketing director Jay Spenchian, noting that in addition to tapping into Burnett’s ad capabilities, the setup leaves Chemistri with greater access to promotional resources such as Arc Worldwide.

Garbassi joins ecds George Katsarelas and David Johns (who lead the Pontiac business) and Daniel Hennessy (who guides the service parts operations work) in day-to-day creative leadership. Chemistri is not seeking a replacement for Sherwood, Bernardin has said.