Internal Memo: Layoffs at Leo Burnett Chicago

By Patrick Coffee 

This week Leo Burnett’s Chicago office had to terminate a number of staffers in response to recent, unnamed changes in its accounts.

An anonymous tipster forwarded us the memo from CEO Rich Stoddart, who writes that the move affected “less than two percent” of the agency’s total staff.

“It’s with a heavy heart that I share with you that we had to say goodbye to some friends and colleagues today. As I am sure you understand, these are very difficult decisions that we do not take lightly. However, it is imperative that we right-size our accounts to match the changing needs of our clients. This reduction of less than two percent of our staff better prepares us to deliver the dynamic change our clients and our business demand.

Thank you for your support of the Leo Burnett Group and, importantly, each other.”

You’ll note that Stoddart does not mention which clients’ needs are changing or which departments were affected, but the most recent headlines regarding Leo Burnett concerned its all-day breakfast campaign for McDonald’s.

The office has seen a fair number of departures and new hires in recent months: in June, Catherine Davis returned to the agency to be EVP overseeing the McD’s account before the shop hired Gordy Sang and Brian Siedband of Deutsch L.A. to work on that business. In August and September, creatives Jo Shoesmith, Brandon Rochon and Adam Kennedy departed: they went to Campbell Ewald L.A., Kastner & Partners and Uber, respectively. The Special K account also went to JWT, but that one is not big enough to cause such changes.

So we don’t know exactly how many people left this week or which accounts have “changing needs.” But we’re betting on some golden arches.