The missing Leo in Burnett

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Is it time to take Leo's name off the door?

After Bcom3 Group's largest agency installed a new executive team with Linda Wolf as CEO and Bob Brennan as president of the worldwide agency network, they brought in Brad Brinegar as CEO of the USA unit and, effectively, took a sledgehammer to the culture instilled at the Chicago-based Leo Burnett USA.

But by October, Mr. Brinegar found himself the odd man out as his management style clashed with Mr. Brennan's. Among the restructuring moves Burnett made in its technology, direct and print services units, it closed several offices and cut at least 250 employees. It also folded multicultural units Lapiz and Vigilante into new Bcom3 unit Pangea.

Leo Burnett Worldwide unveiled some of its freshest creative in years, except most of it came from overseas. Perhaps more painful, Burnett failed to hold onto the new-business momentum it built last year. Often it didn't make the finals for bids, including the $400 million AT&T Wireless account, and parted ways with clients Arthur Andersen, Aventis Pharmaceuticals and Rand McNally & Co.


With Bcom3 having postponed and missed its planned public offering opportunity, Burnett's future now is in limbo and some observers expect the agency to be bought by Dentsu, which owns 20% of Burnett and has the right to match any buyout offer for the company.

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