Leo, DDB Execs Rally Troops

A little more than halfway through a difficult year, executives at two of Chicago’s largest shops, DDB and Leo Burnett, held agencywide meetings last week to rally their troops.

A sluggish new-business environment and layoffs that have struck both shops have been tough on employees’ morale. Bob Scarpelli, addressing his entire staff for the first time since taking over as DDB Chicago’s chairman in June, didn’t duck those issues.

“The losses of General Mills and Energizer e2 coupled with the cutbacks many of our other clients made forced us to do some very difficult things and say goodbye to some good people and good friends,” Scarpelli said. “But now we have to move on.”

Scarpelli’s exhortations to be creative in all endeavors, and his declarations of DDB’s excellence, were well-received and well-timed, said a DDB employee who was there.

“If he made that speech three weeks ago [closer to the time of the layoffs] there would have been a different reaction,” the source said.

At Leo Burnett, the staff gathered at Navy Pier to hear remarks from worldwide CEO Linda Wolf and speeches from worldwide president Bob Brennan, U.S. CEO Brad Brinegar and chief creative officer Cheryl Berman.

The meeting, which discussed how to get back to Burnett’s days of creating iconic work, also featured a professional change consultant and motivational speaker.

“I liken it to a fastball over the plate with reasonable velocity,” said one source. “They’re going to take us through some difficult and necessary steps to get us to the promised land.”

“Management sometimes makes decisions that we don’t know about,” said another Burnetter “They communicated a lot of things that we needed to know.”