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By Published on .

Coming off a well-received term as jury president at the International Advertising Festival in Cannes, Michael Conrad continued to have a memorable summer two weeks ago with a promotion to vice chairman and co-chief creative officer at Leo Burnett Co.

While the Burnett job is clearly the bigger accomplishment, Mr. Conrad said it will present an easier challenge.


"I see tremendous opportunities," he said. "I don't have to set a new agenda. We have a vision that's in place, we have a mission and we have a clear-cut standard set by Leo himself of producing the best advertising in the world, bar none."

In contrast, Mr. Conrad's recent trip to the Riviera had to feel more like a journey into a minefield than a boondoggle at the beach. Besides managing world-class egos from around the globe, he had to step into the controversy left by last year's judges, who declined to award any Grand Prix honors.

By the end of the festival, though, the sun was shining on Mr. Conrad, whose judges panel received widespread kudos for being critical and fair without taking the fun out of the week.

"Michael did an excellent job," said Cannes judge Gary Goldsmith, chairman-creative director at Goldsmith/Jeffrey, New York. "He has a knack for being able to be strong enough as a leader without being oppressive. He didn't ever impose his will on the judges, but he kept them focused and kept the process moving."


Mr. Conrad, 52, said he will draw on those skills as co-chief creative officer and heir apparent to top Burnett creative Richard Fizdale, 57, who also holds the chief creative officer title but plans to retire by the end of 1997.

"I'm usually not the one creating the campaigns," said Mr. Conrad, previously group president-deputy chief creative officer. "I'm a manager. We have tremendous talent here. My job is to move the product ahead. I have to build confidence that we can do it together, and I think I can."

Mr. Conrad joined Burnett in 1980, when it acquired his German agency, Luerzer, Conrad, Frankfurt. Much of his responsibility in recent years has centered on Burnett's global creative product committee, which reviews some 5,000 ads a year and gives feedback to creative directors all over the world.


His promotion brings with it line responsibility for the creative department of Chicago-based Leo Burnett USA. That should give Mr. Conrad a higher profile in the U.S., where he's not one of

the industry's tip-of-the-tongue names.

Brands that are likely to win some of his attention include McDonald's and Oldsmobile.

Burnett is lead U.S. agency for the Golden Arches but recently lost a big piece of business when McDonald's Corp. awarded creative for the Arch Deluxe launch to Fallon McElligott, Minneapolis.

Mr. Fizdale led a successful rescue of General Motors Corp.'s Oldsmobile account three years ago, but slumping sales have renewed GM's heat on the agency (AA, July 22).

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