Leo Burnett Combines Digital, Direct Assets

NEW YORK — Leo Burnett Worldwide confirmed Wednesday that it has combined its digital, direct and database marketing units to form a new 400-staffer network, called iLeo.

The consolidation, which had been expected [IQ Daily Briefing, Aug. 29], comes three weeks after Publicis Groupe completed its $3 billion acquisition of Leo Burnett parent, Bcom3 Group.

In North America, Leo Burnett unites its interactive subsidiary, Chemistri, with its direct response unit, LB Customer Group. Chemistri was formed in Sept. 2000 from its predecessor, Capps Digital, and LB Customer Group was created in Sept. 2001. The combined 100-person domestic operation will be led by president and CEO Peter Steinhauser, who most recently was managing director, evp of the LB Customer Group.

“There were really complementary services. We’re not necessarily gaining huge efficiencies. This is less a consolidation than it is an aligning of complementary resources,” said Steinhauser, in response to whether the initiative was meant to achieve cost savings following the Publicis-Bcom3 merger. Earlier this week, Publicis confirmed plans to fold D’Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles into other holding-company units [Adweek.com, Oct. 14].

iLeo will handle branded direct-response, online and offline campaigns aimed at driving customer acquisition, retention and loyalty for such marketers as Kellogg’s, General Motors, Hallmark and Procter & Gamble.

Outside North America, iLeo will bring together digital, direct and database assets in 27 countries, including the U.K., Germany, France, Japan, Brazil, Australia and Spain. Bant Breen, formerly vp, global director of digital communications, will serve as regional director for Europe, Middle East and Africa. Sumeet Kanwar, most recently vp, global digital strategy, will become regional director for Southeast Asia. Latin America units will report into Giacomo Zandomenego, who has been group president for Leo Burnett Latin America since 1997. All regional directors will report to Leo Burnett COO Steve Gatfield.

No layoffs are expected as a result of the consolidation, said a Leo Burnett representative. “We’re actually hoping to grow, not shrink,” he said. Other former Bcom3 digital units that now belong to Publicis, Semaphore Partners in San Francisco and StarcomIP in Chicago, are unaffected.