Burnett Drops Reebok Account

By Scott Hume

CHICAGO–Leo Burnett resigned the $100 million Reebok International account late last week, citing continuing creative and philosophical differences. The advertising agency had handled creative since September 1993 and took on media buying the following year.

Brenda Goodell, vice president of U.S. marketing for Stoughton, Mass.-based Reebok, said her intention is to work with ‘a variety of agencies and creative resources’ as it has been doing recently. It may not select a core agency to succeed Burnett. ‘We will consider a lot of agencies,’ she said. One agency will likely be chosen for media buying.

One is likely to be Heater Advertising in Boston which last week created a quick-turnaround television spot congratulating Reebok endorser Allen Iverson, named NBA Rookie of the Year.

Reebok last month had said it was asking Burnett to create partnerships with other marketing agencies to work with on the account and the agency appeared to be losing creative control. A television spot featuring Shaquille O’Neal currently airing, for example, was produced by O’Neal, his agent Leonard Armato and his management company, Management Plus.

‘The partnership approach wasn’t the problem and this decision was not a reaction to that,’ said Jim Thompson, Burnett executive vice president and worldwide account head on Reebok. ‘It has been a longterm problem with philosophies and the ways we and they approach advertising.’

‘Reebok tends to be a little more tactical, and we’d like to be more methodical in brand building. While Reebok has liked the work we’ve done, right up to now, the process of getting there is very, very difficult. We’ve put some new creative teams on the business and they’ve all begun very excited and hopeful but have run into the same frustrations.’

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