BURNETT - AN ENDURING CULTURE; AT THE 60-YEAR MARK, THE AGENCY STILL HEWS TO THE ROCK-SOLID VALUES AND PRINCIPLES OF ITS FOUNDER (PART 5/5)

By Published on .

International actually played a role in landing the $75 million McDonald's business in October 1981, one of the largest account shifts in advertising at that time. Mr. Kopp talked about a plan of strategic encirclement: Win McDonald's business in outposts such as Belgium, Holland and France, show them what the agency could do, than strike directly at headquarters in Oak Brook, Ill. It worked, and Burnett soon passed the billion-dollar line.

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."

In this article:
Most Popular