Ironically though, the McDonald's victory also undermined Leo's most basic notions of the primacy of creative. It was widely agreed that Needham, Harper & Steers, the losing agency, had built a brilliant body of creative work over 11 years with McDonald's. To some, the shift seemed a bitter and cynical reward for such work.
Will agency management now hold fast to the Burnett culture? With worldwide billings last year at $4.592 billion, it is a lean and efficient operation, with one person for each $10 million.
President-CEO William Lynch and Chairman-Chief Creative Officer Richard Fizdale, both of whom joined the agency in the '60s, will almost surely be the final senior management to have touched hands with the founder.
Mr. Lynch is confident that the founder would be happy with the direction the agency has taken.
"I think if Leo came back today," he said, "he'd be surprised at the size we've grown to-but pleased that size has not diverted us from the focus he set, which is getting out the ads. He left no rules, no perscriptions. He left values. And we take them seriously."