Departures Come as Parent Leo Burnett Absorbs Shop

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CHICAGO ( -- As Publicis Groupe's Leo Burnett USA on Jan. 1 absorbs its LB Works unit, the agency today confirmed that LB Works President Jeff Jones and Chief Creative Officer Steffan Postaer are departing. Last month, Burnett announced it would absorb the business-to-business and technology-focused unit to avoid confusion with the main Burnett brand.

"It did start to create some confusion," Linda Wolf, chairman-CEO of Leo Burnett Worldwide, said last month in announcing the move. "In the marketplace you want to have clarity about the Leo Burnett brand and what the Leo Burnett brand stands for. It made sense to bring them back into Burnett as opposed to having them be a separate company."

Talking to JWT?
Mr. Postaer's departure is effective immediately, although he has offered his services to the shop through the end of the year. He has been spotted interviewing in New York and is said to have been in contact with WPP Group's J. Walter Thompson, among others. Mr. Postaer has not returned calls for comment. Asked whether he is talking to Mr. Postaer, Bob Jeffrey, president of JWT North America, said through a spokesman, "I talk to people all the time," and wouldn't comment specifically on Mr. Postaer. Asked whether rumors that the agency intends to add either a global or North American creative chief, Mr. Jeffrey said there are there are no current plans to make changes in the agency's creative lineup.

Meanwhile, Mr. Jones will stay until the end of February to aid in the transition of merging the unit.

"I am proud of what we accomplished in building LB Works," he said in a written statement. "More than a dozen clients and over 100 professionals entrusted LB Works with their brands and careers over the last two years. It has been an awesome responsibility for which I am truly grateful."

That's not the only pending departure. Already, LB Works client Lexmark has been contacting shops for a pending review, according to executives close to the marketer. Lexmark last week denied it was shopping for a new agency and hasn't immediately returned calls.

At the time of the LB Works announcement, the 2-year old agency said it had to resign the Starbucks Coffee Co. account, which would have conflicted with Burnett's longtime client McDonald's Corp. It wasn't the first account the agency had to resign. In February, the agency won the H2O Plus retail account but resigned it under fuzzy circumstances before producing any work. Insiders said it may have conflicted with another account, while others said the agency, which originally opened as a technology and business-to-business shop, began to encroach on its parent agency's retail territory.

11 accounts
LB Works opened in 2001 and also handled Maytag and Kraft Foods' Altoids, which had been nurtured by Mr. Postaer. Since then, LB Works has amassed 11 accounts, including hotly contested wins for Storagetek, Earthlink and Lexmark in 2002, as well as the $200 million Gateway business and Starbucks this year.

Separately, Leo Burnett today named Bob Maloney chief financial officer from vice president and director of client finance. He replaces Eric Martinez, who left to pursue other interests, according to the agency.

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