More Layoffs Hit Leo Burnett Chicago

By Patrick Coffee 

Leo BurnettA round of layoffs hit the Chicago offices of Leo Burnett this week in what looks like the latest phase of Publicis Groupe’s ongoing restructuring efforts in North America.

An agency spokesperson writes:

“It’s been a difficult day at Leo Burnett as we had to part with some of our valued colleagues. This decision, while never easy, is a result of the agency streamlining operations to operate more efficiently.”


The agency did not give us a percentage estimate to reflect the number of employees affected, but various sources say the total is significant.

This news follows a somewhat eventful month at the agency, which parted ways with “approximately ten” staffers in early March before a series of shifts in the creative department including the promotion of Britt Nolan to chief creative officer and the departure of “Like a Girl” leader A.J. Hassan, who went to R/GA Chicago.

Leo Burnett declined to elaborate on the nature of the streamlining mentioned above, but multiple sources tell us it was part of Publicis’ “routine restructuring plan” that began with at least 80 layoffs at Starcom MediaVest following the loss of Walmart, Coca-Cola and P&G.

That news preceded a large-scale reorganization of all Publicis media agencies, which will now be part of an international “hub” led by ZenithOptimedia CEO Steve King. The holding company then moved to consolidate its healthcare operations in New York by effectively combining Publicis Life Brands Medicus and Digitas Health LifeBrands into one unit and parting with approximately 25 employees across those two shops. MRY is also smaller now than it was two months ago after Visa and T-Mobile moved their business elsewhere.

Sources tell us that the Leo Burnett news is one of a series of similar downsizing moves and that it stems from the larger Publicis Groupe’s Q4 earnings, which Maurice Levy called “better than expected” back in February. Others state that the agency recently shrank its “behind the house” staff significantly, and some employees expect more such announcements to follow.

In other Chicago news, Mekanism now “aims to be a real force” in the city after setting up operations there several months ago to handle the MillerCoors and Jim Beam accounts.