This week the Leo Burnett Advertising Agency will celebrate it's birthday for the 72nd time. In my days at LBC, it was a special day of themed entertainment, all sorts of histrionics that only an advertising agency - or something like it - would sponsor, along with day-long lunch excursions with colleagues and the famed "silver dollar bonus" - one for each year the agency was old.
I had a special affinity for the funny-looking little man who shot from the hip and spoke from the heart. (Google "When to Take My Name Off the Door") His work ethic and advertising approach were distinctively Midwestern - Sincere, if not corny -- But on this ethos he built one of the world's most revered and successful agencies. And maybe I related because I was a Leo too -- also born in August -- a dyslexic 1953 to Burnett's 1935. Or because it was my first job out of school -- where I made many life-long friends and played joyously in Grant Park for the curiously quirky, creatively fluent and amply elixored softball team, The Bad Apples.
Leo was at heart an iconoclast and an adventurer. Everyone told him he was crazy to start an ad agency in the midst of the Great Depression. Pernicious prognosticators predicted that he would be selling apples on the street before long -- Thus the signature apples that he gave away, as the agency does to this day. Turning a negative into a positive was at Leo's core ...
Leo was an innovator par excellence because, among other things:
- His dreams always exceeded his grasp.
- He turned negatives into positives.
- He believed that advertising/work was fun.
- He put the client first -- always before profit.
- He understood Client TOUCH POINTS: From the apples, to the thick black pencils in his conference rooms, to his habit of signing all his letters and memos in green ink. Each were a distinct reminder of the brand Leo Burnett and the distinctly innovative thinker behind it -- His passion for what he did, a proud penchant for detail and a unique style.
Happy Birthday Leo! Thanks for the lessons in innovation ...
Doug Stevenson for The Innovise Guys