HAUPT SET TO TAKE OVER AS CEO OF BURNETT: HEIR APPARENT TO FIZDALE CREDITED FOR BEING MAJOR TURNAROUND FORCE

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Leo Burnett Co. could lift the veil of secrecy early this week as it names Roger Haupt to succeed Rick Fizdale as CEO.

Mr. Fizdale is expected to remain chairman and could retire by the end of next year.

Mr. Haupt, vice chairman and chief operating officer, has been considered the heir apparent. Born in the U.K., the 15-year Burnetter helped the Chicago agency break into several overseas markets. He's also credited with leading Burnett into high-tech marketing with the acquisition of TFA Communications.

CONSIDERED CHIEF ARCHITECT

Mr. Haupt is regarded as one of the chief architects behind the idea of selling at least 10% of the private Burnett to Tokyo-based Dentsu, the world's largest agency brand with 1998 gross income of $1.8 billion. The agreement, to have been inked by late spring, is still being negotiated, an executive familiar with the talks said, because longtime staffers are reluctant to give up control.

Mr. Fizdale returned to the CEO slot in 1997, succeeding the ousted William Lynch. Mr. Fizdale had been acting chairman.

At the time, Burnett was reeling from the $70 million loss of United Airlines to Fallon McElligott, Minneapolis, as well as the creative portion of Miller Brewing Co.'s $85 million Miller Lite account. Burnett also lost lead agency status on McDonald's Corp. to DDB Worldwide, Chicago, but retained its local, kids and 'tweens business.

Since then, it's rebounded with a string of wins. This year, Burnett won the $50 million H.J. Heinz Co. global ketchup account and Toys "R" Us' $75 million account. That was capped last week with the $100 million Delta Air Lines business.

Its Starcom Worldwide unit also won big-budget business this year, including the $70 million Destination Films account, Canon USA's $100 million business and Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co.'s $200 million account.

MORE CHANGES EXPECTED

Other changes also are coming soon at Burnett. Perhaps as soon as month's end, the agency is expected to announce its reconfiguration into a global holding company.The restructuring may include paring its 2-year-old agency-within-an-agency system at Leo Burnett USA into just a few units.

The highly touted concept was designed to make the U.S. arm of the $6.8 billion monolith more nimble. Burnett has insisted whatever configuration may result will be more "evolutionary than revolutionary."

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