A New Day at Leo Burnett: Fizdale Outlines Plan to Reorganize the Agency




CHICAGO-On Sept. 17, Leo Burnett’s trademark red apples were replaced with oranges in the shop’s reception area to signify “Day One” of the “New Burnett,” announced earlier at an agency meeting by Rick Fizdale, chairman and chief executive officer.
The plan Fizdale outlined changes the domestic operating structure with three goals: to maximize responsiveness to clients, to repackage expertise and to attract new clients to the $2.6 billion U.S. agency.
Fizdale also broke Burnett’s tradition of relying on home-grown talent, especially in the creative department, with the hiring of former Nike global ad director Joe McCarthy as a creative consultant.
Burnett will be divided into as many as 10 “mini-agencies,” organized along broad client business categories such as healthcare, retail and durables. Fizdale said he expects the first two to be organized by November.
The Leo Burnett Media department will be renamed Starcom and gain autonomy, but not total independence. The unit may solicit media buying responsibilities for smaller agencies as well as media-only clients not on the Burnett roster. “In a more complex media environment, clients have become enamored with media specialists,” Fizdale said. Burnett will also spin off Leo Burnett Idea Lab, a strategic consultancy.
Asked if the restructuring could have saved the Ameritech, United Airlines and McDonald’s creative business lost in the last year, Fizdale said, “I’d like to think so. But 10 [clients] joined with us, while three left. I’ll take a 10:3 ratio every day of the week.”