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The Advertising Century

Leo Burnett

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Leo Burnett
(1892-1971)
Leo Burnett Co., Chicago

Although rumpled, overweight Leo Burnett hardly embodied the "adman" image, his copy always impressed. Taught by Theodore MacManus at General Motors Corp., Burnett, a Michigan native, imbued copy with the product's "inherent drama" through warmth, shared emotions and experiences. He left Erwin, Wasey, Chicago, in '35 to open an agency that spawned a distinctive "Chicago school," i.e., sentimental ads drawn from heartland-rooted values. He created such evocative icons as the Jolly Green Giant, Pillsbury Doughboy, Charlie the Tuna and Tony the Tiger. His Marlboro campaign, a legendary example of advertising's power to build a global business, ultimately became a magnet for legislative crackdowns on tobacco marketing.

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