While there are rumblings Hallmark might be the next to put its account into review (AA, Nov. 25), the card marketer denied any such plans. Other Burnett clients are also publicly supportive of the agency. Kellogg, which observers thought might depart after the exit of Mr. Jenness-then the closest Burnett executive on the business-has done just the opposite, giving Burnett some big new-product launches, including Cocoa Frosted Flakes and Razzle Dazzle Rice Krispies, and a major print campaign boosting the benefits of breakfast cereal.
And General Motors Corp.'s Oldsmobile-retained by Burnett after a review in 1992-is happy with new-model advertising.
IN FAVOR AT COCA-COLA
Coca-Cola Co. clearly has Burnett on its favored list, giving the shop assignments for Coca-Cola Classic in several countries overseas and, domestically, its "Incredible Summer" promotion as well as responsibility for the Surge and Fruitopia brands.
"We're very pleased with the creative and the direction in which we've been moving on both of those brands," said a Coca-Cola spokesman.
Walt Disney Co., too, has handed over its Disney Cruise Line and assignments in some 15 countries on top of its Disneyland theme park.
But with the exception of Eli Lilly & Co.'s $8 million Prozac business and the New York Stock Exchange, the agency's new business in creative other than new work from existing accounts generally has come from smaller, regional clients, such as Service Merchandise, Northwestern Memorial Hospital and Marshall Field & Co.'s flagship State Street store.
And even though Burnett's biggest booster is Philip Morris, that bond may be fraying. Philip Morris management was said to have a role in the Miller move and Burnett missed out on Kraft's biggest new-business prospect, a $50 million global branding assignment that went to J. Walter Thompson Co., Chicago.
Moreover, Burnett inevitably will lose tens of millions in domestic marketing dollars from Philip Morris as tobacco companies make huge concessions on advertising under pressure from the government and health groups.
URGED TO QUIT PHILIP MORRIS
Pressure on that particular account was brought home to Burnett only last week. In a demonstration of how public the agency's private woes have come to be, employees walking from the Leo Burnett Building to the nearby Chicago Theater on Sept. 16 to hear the agency's plans were handed a leaflet from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids that said, "A fresh start for Leo Burnett means kicking the tobacco habit" by resigning the Philip Morris account.
The other big question at Burnett is succession, particularly how long past normal retirement age-57 at Burnett-will Mr. Fizdale, 58, remain.
The agency's management is now mainly in its 50s. But a Burnett spokesman said there are a number of executives under 50 on their way up, and the group is increasingly including executives based outside the Chicago headquarters.
Besides Ms. Berman, the under-50 group among Burnett's board include Mary Bishop, the worldwide account head for P&G; Jeff Fergus, group president, Europe/Middle East/Africa and Asia/Pacific; and Jack Klues, worldwide media director, who was named to the board in late spring.
Other younger executives also rising include Carla Michelotti, associate general counsel and director of government affairs; Steve Gatfield, regional managing director Asia/Pacific; and Nick Bryan, the 35-year-old head of Burnett's London office.
North America Group President Linda Wolf is seen as the likely successor when Mr. Fizdale does retire, as he had originally planned to do in 1996. Chicago agency executives took note when Burnett hosted the annual luncheon of Off the Street Club, a local communications industry charity, the invitations were sent in Ms. Wolf's name, not, as expected, in Mr. Fizdale's.
In the Kremlinology of Burnett-watching, that seemed a telling sign to outsiders that Ms. Wolf was the heir-apparent, as was her visibility when recent layoffs of 74 staffers were announced. But observers suggest the agency should also look outside its existing ranks for future leadership, although recruiting might be difficult given the agency's airtight culture.
The adage is that a company's assets go down the elevator every night, the same shaft down which Mr. Burnett, in his 1967 speech, threatened to throw "every goddamn apple" should the agency violate his vision.
The restructuring doesn't seem to violate that vision. But it is the first step toward breaking with the past and adapting to a new world order.
Said one former staffer: "That star Leo was reaching for is not as bright as it