Burnett Seeks to Put a Face on Interactive Work

Leo Burnett’s move to merge its interactive division with its direct and database efforts is intended to help stress the human element in interactive work, according to executives.

“What we’re trying to do is make sure they emphasize customer value by getting the ‘R’ (in customer relationship management) part right,” said Stephen Gatfield, Burnett’s worldwide COO. “The capacity to be reached has grown over the past 10 years, [but] it’s not commensurate with the desire to be reached.”

The new unit, iLeo, will be global in scope, combining diverse below-the-line assets—many gained through acquisition—in markets worldwide. In the U.S., iLeo will combine the shop’s direct and database disciplines, formerly called the Customer Group, and its interactive unit, Chem istri.

Peter Steinhauser, who will serve as iLeo’s president and CEO, said merging the disciplines allows the agency to offer more “complementary” resources in one place.

“We’re offering clients the fundamentals of direct marketing, but with new and traditional media,” Steinhauser said. “The goal for many cli ents is integration, but what they can’t sacrifice is a high level of specificity.”

Steinhauser was president of the Customer Group. Chem istri’s co-CEOs, Kurt Karlenzig and Chris Miller, helped with the transition and then left the agency, according to a company repre sentative. Their departure had been expected [Adweek online, Aug. 29].

Steinhauser, who reports to Gatfield, said he’s expecting to sell iLeo as a place that meshes the retail messages of those below-the-line practices with Burnett’s traditional advertising practice.

“We’re going to be earning our way to getting their business,” he said. “We’re not going to get it simply by having the Leo Burnett name.”