BuzzFeed Hires Leo Burnett Veteran to Run Brand Strategy in Chicago

By Patrick Coffee 

Digital media giant BuzzFeed has deepened its connection to the agency world by hiring a longtime veteran of the Leo Burnett organization to serve as its SVP of brand strategy for the Midwest region operating out of its Chicago office.

Rachel Winer joined the BF last month after spending nearly 16 years with Leo Burnett, where she was EVP, account director. The Publicis shop brought her on in 2000 to manage the Kellogg’s cereal brands; she eventually led that company’s global portfolio including morning foods, snacks, health & wellness and Special K, which went to JWT last year.

In the new role, Winer will effectively manage sales strategy for the company’s Chicago and Detroit offices, where she will frequently interact with both brand and agency contacts. We hear that her experience in the accounts departments at both Leo Burnett and Energy BBDO made her an ideal choice as BuzzFeed’s ambassador to Midwestern marketers.


rachel winerThe release states that she will “focus on solution oriented strategies and will elevate conversations with clients and agency teams in the region,” and a recent listing for a similar position in New York asks for candidates who can develop relationships across the marketing spectrum from CMOs to agency buyers while also helping the in-house team develop sponsored content and social media campaigns.

As readers of this blog know, recent years have been a transitional period of sorts for Leo Burnett Chicago, and Winer positions her move to BuzzFeed as a natural progression in a statement.

“About 5 years ago I started to see a big shift in the advertising industry and a lot of very smart and talented people I respected were moving on to do really interesting work in the tech space,” she said. “As I began to think about what I wanted the next chapter of my career, I knew I wanted to be at a progressive company that had a great culture and was growing. What got me really excited about BuzzFeed was the opportunity to be platform agnostic and come up with creative solutions that can be distributed and customized to work across multiple platforms in the most relevant way.”

In other BuzzFeed news, the company recently hired former Microsoft project manager Gilad Lotan as its head of data science. He told TechCrunch that the company is “totally rethinking how we classify content” — including sponsored materials — to focus less on format, topic and length and more on the emotional responses it inspires in readers.