Recently I was invited to spend a day with the folks at Leo Burnett in Chicago. Coming from a boutique agency—I was bursting with excitement. Why? Because if you play in the advertising and marketing arena—you know that Leo Burnett is the cream of the crop when it comes to agencies.
With a rich roster that boasts some of history’s most recognized icons—including the Jolly Green Giant, Pillsbury Doughboy, Tony the Tiger and the Marlboro Man to name a few—their creative firepower spans eight decades. Did I mention they just brought home a record 69 Lions from this year’s Cannes Film Festival? Was it going to be a modern day Mad Men experience? Would I be overcome with the inability to relate?
After checking in on the 21st floor, I was greeted with open arms and immediately immersed in the Leo Burnett experience. After getting an up close look at their company culture and meeting with top execs throughout the organization, I began to notice something. Regardless of their size, our agencies had a few things in common.
We’re all in the idea business. Wired differently than most—our ideas often come to us out of nowhere and sometimes fail to show up at all when we need them most. Going for a run along the Chicago Riverwalk or throwing a few plugs off the dock mid-day—we seek ideas in different places. And whether we’re a team of 10 or 10,000—we are hopeful that our ideas will spark an eternal flame.
Be it a commercial or a social media campaign—we are both striving to change the way people think and feel. Putting our best creative foot forward, we work tirelessly to connect with people in an effort to build lasting relationships.
Technology is changing the way we do business. Every. Single. Day. We continuously embrace new technologies to reach and engage people in a more impactful way; while at the same time utilizing traditional approaches. It’s a balancing act—and it’s hard work.
Leo Burnett said it best, “The work of an advertising agency is warmly and immediately human. It deals with needs, wants, dreams and hopes. Its ‘product’ cannot be turned out on an assembly line.” Indeed that is still true of the agency today—Leo’s legacy remains alive and well nourished.
In the end, I learned that size doesn’t matter. Small agencies may be outnumbered, but never outsmarted.