The Tie That Binds Gateway, Burnett

Leo Burnett is taking over as Gateway’s fourth agency in three years, but a new client executive could help this relationship last longer than the others.

The computer retailer in January divided its marketing operation into consumer and business units, and named former Burnett executive T. Scott Edwards, 41, evp of Gateway’s consumer business. As part of the reorganization, marketing was tied into P&L responsibility, which is expected to increase Edwards’ authority, a company rep said. His post, a new one, consolidates duties previously held by a number of executives, the rep said.

That could be good news for Burnett, as past agencies suffered from what one source called a “fragmented organization” that left CEO Ted Waitt making a lot of the marketing decisions. A stronger single voice could allay that, the source said, noting that “Ted will be involved, but he can be persuaded.”

Edwards, whom another source called “a straight shooter,” was Burnett’s director of business development worldwide when he left to work at Sony in 1998. He contacted his old shop upon joining Gateway. Pitted against GSD&M, Burnett teamed with its LB Works unit and Publicis sibling Frankel to win the $150-200 million account on March 8.

Burnett president Bob Brennan, who has kept in touch with Edwards, said Gateway’s past issues with shops do not bother him, in part because of his familiarity with Edwards.

Gateway last held a review in early 2001 after three years with McCann-Erickson. Fallon in Minneapolis won but could not come to terms on compensation. Advertising then went in-house. Siltanen/Keehn eventually landed the account, but it was dropped in October, and Arnell Group took over.

—with Andrew McMains