Leo Burnett USA

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2002 Rating: 3 stars

2001 Rating: 2 stars

As the flagship of Bcom3 Group, Leo Burnett USA endured enough ups and downs in 2002 to qualify it as a name for a ride at client Walt Disney World. After a rocky streak in the New Year, by spring Burnett was hot and its destiny was clear as the coveted prize of Publicis Groupe Chairman-CEO Maurice Levy. In March, Publicis said it would buy Bcom3.

After winning seven new accounts by June, including Walt Disney Co.'s ABC, Morgan Stanley & Co.'s global account and EarthLink, Burnett cooled with the U.S. Postal Service loss. When the Publicis acquisition closed in September, Burnett got the better end of its new French connection with an added $300 million in business from the Procter & Gamble Co. shuffle and $400 million from General Motors Corp. consolidation. Its strategic assignment from Gap added to the yearend momentum.

Following the addition of five creatives under new Deputy Chief Creative Officer Mark Tutssel, the Chicago-based shop needs to show more progress beyond its touted work from Allstate Corp., Chicago electric utility ComEd and the Ad Council. Meanwhile, Kraft Foods' Altoids creative under Steffan Postaer, executive creative director of mini-shop LB Works, was anything but sour.


Change is far from over at the house that Leo built, say executives close to the agency. Speculation is rampant that the fight for the role of heir apparent to worldwide CEO Linda Wolf is hot between President Bob Brennan and Chief Operating Officer Steve Gatfield.

Also, the agency must prove to McDonald's Corp. that it has the stuff to bring smiles back to the Happy Meal. With its Starcom ties to troubled Miller Brewing Co., watch for Burnett to give up the tiny account of Labatt USA's Beck's (which it won in 2002 but hasn't created ads for yet) to snare some bigger suds. Burnett still needs to install a new-business team.

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