The Ultimate Brand Building

The Leo Burnett Building—50 gleaming stories of granite, glass and stainless steel—stands proudly at 35 West Wacker Dr., overlooking the Chicago River. But on a recent boat tour of the high lights of the Chicago skyline, it was the Burnett Building itself that was overlooked—by a tour guide who has a beef with branding.

As the guide for Wendella Boat Tours pointed out such Windy City landmarks as Jerry Springer’s and Sammy Sosa’s residences, Shoptalk inquired innocently about the Burnett Building. The acerbic reply came like a splash of filthy Chicago River water: “With the creation of the Jolly Green Giant, Leo Burnett unleashed branding on all of us—and I hate branding,” the guide seethed. “I don’t want to give them any more publicity.”

“While we can’t speak to the ‘architectural expert ise’ of this guide or Wendella Boat Tours, the Leo Burnett Building is one of the more prominent in Chicago, designed by celebrated architect Kevin Roche, widely regarded as one of the world’s most brilliant modernist archi tects,” says a Burnett rep.

“I’ve been trying to get into Adweek for years! But not like this!” Craig Wenokur, Wendella’s marketing director, said Friday. When Shoptalk described the guide, Wenokur said, “Oh, I know who you’re talking about. That’s our doctor—he’s in med ical school. I can only hope that no adver tising executives ever meet him in the operating room.” Asked what his fate will be, Wenokur said, “We’re just going to throw him in the river.”