Burnett Cuts Back Its Senior Staff

Lays Off 16 Employees in Wake of Chief Creative's Exit

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CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- In the wake of the departure of Chief Creative Officer Cheryl Berman, Leo Burnett Co. has laid off 16 mostly senior employees comprising between 1% and 2% of the Chicago agency's work force.
The list of departing creatives appeared to be centered on veterans with close ties to former Chief Creative Officer Cheryl Berman.
The list of departing creatives appeared to be centered on veterans with close ties to former Chief Creative Officer Cheryl Berman.

A Burnett spokeswoman said the cuts, which included both creatives and account managers, were "part of a strategic agency reorganization effort. These moves follow a comprehensive evaluation of our organization and talent to determine how we can better structure ourselves to meet the existing and future demands of our business."

Frequent clashes
Ms. Berman frequently clashed with Mark Tutssel, the current Burnett worldwide chief creative officer, and one executive familiar with the cuts said the list of departing creatives appeared to be centered on veterans with close ties to Ms. Berman, who left the agency earlier this month. But the spokeswoman said there was "no connection at all" between her departure and the recent cuts, and that the agency was simply restructuring.

That's a step many current and former Burnetters say is necessary, as the Publicis Groupe shop is frequently described as being top heavy in the management ranks.

Burnett executives are hoping the reorganization can boost the iconic agency's slumping new-business trends. Major recent account losses there include the U.S. Army and Cadillac.
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