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Leo Burnett Co. has unveiled its new "mini-agency" approach, with the largest agency brand in the U.S. separating into seven units.

Each mini-agency team will be responsible for setting its own direction and for its own profit-and-loss statements; each agency's management will be empowered to establish its own procedures and each will be responsible for generating its own new business.


Chicago-based Burnett, which earlier this fall announced the reorganization plans to reduce bureaucracy and improve the creative environment, has long been criticized for being too tradition-bound and stifling creativity (AA, Sept. 22).

The first three agencies will open after Christmas, and the remaining four by spring, said Burnett Chairman-CEO Richard Fizdale. The restructuring presents a logistical challenge of relocating nearly 1,000 employees within Burnett's headquarters during the Christmas holidays.

The first three agencies -- referred to as A, B and C until names are chosen -- will each have a managing director, managing creative director, managing planning director and executive TV producer. They also will include representatives of Burnett's newly established independent media unit, Starcom, on the brand team of each.

Agency A will handle health and personal-care clients and be headed by Mary Bishop, worldwide account head on Procter & Gamble Co. In addition to P&G, other clients include Allstate Corp., Eli Lilly & Co., Pharmavite Corp. and Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

Agency B, led by Jim Thompson, worldwide account head for Kraft Foods, will handle food and beverage accounts including Coca-Cola Co., Dairy Management Inc., First Brands, Pillsbury Co. and United Distillers USA.

Agency C, the largest of the seven, will be run by Pete Volz, worldwide account head of the Philip Morris Cos. account. It will serve Philip Morris Cos.; Miller Brewing Co.; Morgan Stanley; Dean Witter; Discover & Co.; and the New York Stock Exchange.


The agencies will be left to pick their own names, but Mr. Fizdale said he anticipates they will use variations of the Burnett name.

The other four agencies will include two centered around product types -- retail and durables -- and two that will represent combinations of unrelated clients.

Burnett will tap personnel outside of its Chicago headquarters -- and sometimes outside the agency itself -- to staff some of the agencies, said Mr. Fizdale.

Some "very senior" positions in creative, client service and planning will be staffed by executives recruited from outside the area, he said.

All the agencies will report to Linda Wolf, group president-North America, and an operations group made up of senior staff. Members include Cheryl Berman, chief creative officer; Starcom President Bob Brennan; U.S. Director of Planning Cathy DeThorne; Director of Corporate Planning Mike Hall; U.S. Finance Director Cindy McCann; and Phil Raskin, deputy director of creative services.


Although each agency will generate its own new-business prospects, prospects that contact Burnett will be assigned to one of the agencies to pitch by senior management. Scott Edwards, head of new-business development, will act as a clearinghouse and coordinate with Ms. Wolf to resolve any conflicts.

Other specialized areas within Burnett -- including Direct & Promotion, Database Marketing, Hispanic Marketing, Public Relations and Research -- remain centralized, and will be used by the mini-agencies as needed. All other back-office, operational and administrative services remain centered at the parent

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