Leo Burnett McDonald's McCrispy

The showcase 2022

Enjoying growth and demonstrating effectiveness: Leo Burnett's 2022

Some hefty wins as well as garlands at the IPA Effectiveness Awards were among the year's highlights

By creative salon

Leo Burnett ended 2022 on a high, having won the Morrisons account. The business shifted from Publicis.Poke but meant that the account remained within the Publicis Groupe.

It was the bookend to another successful year for the agency, which hit all the high notes of creativity, effectiveness and growth.

We caught up with Charlie Rudd, the agency's chief executive, to talk about the year and, below, give Creative Salon's perspective on the agency's performance.

Charlie Rudd, Leo Burnett's chief executive, on his agency's year

What three words would you use to describe 2022?

Frenetic, Febrile, Fun

Talk us through some of your agency’s highlights this year?

This year, we’ve created some brilliant populist work for some of the nation’s biggest and best brands. From our House of Disney+ work at the beginning of the year to Comic Relief’s ‘Funny is Power’, our SKODA 'KAMIQ' and 'FABIA' work, plus the multitude of campaigns we created for McDonald’s: 'Fries Claims', 'McCrispy' and 'One’s Lovin’ It', to name a few.

Not only did we create great work, we were recognised for it too: we’re so pleased with our Gold at the Effies and our two IPA award wins for our work on McDonald’s: a Gold, and the Simon Broadbent Prize for Best Dedication to Effectiveness. Simon was a Burnetter back in the day, and it’s the first time we’ve won this in our agency’s history, so we’re extremely proud about this one.

In 2022, we continued to stay focused on healthy growth. We’re incredibly pleased to be working with new clients such as Google and Victorian Plumbing, but we also recognised the importance of turning down pitches that weren’t right for us.

Most important of all: our latest internal survey told us that our staff are happier than they’ve ever been. We’ve embraced post-pandemic flexibility, not mandating office days but letting our people decide when and where to work, and our churn rate has stayed a long way below the industry averages. That’s definitely been the biggest highlight for me.

What one thing are you proudest of this year?

Perhaps it will seem trite but it’s entirely true - our people. This has been another crazy year for the Leo Burnett gang - lockdowns, pitches (and pitch wins), award entries (and wins), and that’s before we get to the broader UK and Global headwinds…. I’m humbled by the quality of work they deliver day in and day out despite the times we are living in.

And what’s been your biggest challenge?

Permacrisis. I wish I’d never heard that word but it certainly sums up what it feels like to be leading a business in the UK in 2022.

What are you most looking forward to in 2023?

What we can achieve at Leo’s when we’ve had a little rest over Christmas.

And what one change would you most like to see in our industry next year?

Obviously our industry still has a mountain to climb on diversity and I would love to see that change fast but sadly it will take more than a year. In addition, I’d love to see the swagger return to our industry; what we do is special and has very significant positive business effects. I’m very proud of that; and we all should be.

Creative Salon on Leo Burnett's 2022

While we still await the result of whether Leo Burnett has won the ad account for Allwyn (which is replacing Camelot as operator of the National Lottery), Charlie Rudd and his team can look back on 2022 with great satisfaction.

The year had it all - wins, work and awards. While Morrisons might have dominated the headlines there was also new business from Google and Victoria Plumbing. McDonald's triumphed at the IPA Effectiveness Awards, and the agency provided a consistent pipeline of populist campaigns for the brand, while other work included dynamic campaigns for SKODA, Disney+ and Comic Relief.

New hires included Aileen Baker who joined as planning partner from Krow Communications, Thandi Mbire who joined as cultural planner from BBH, Meta’s Natalie Kozlowska who stepped into the new role of head of production. The creative bench was strengthened with a raft of appointments, including Helen Rogerson and Owen Hunter from The&Partnership, Josh Merriam and Chanelle Andrews from Goodstuff, and Kerry Donnelly and Zoe Davies from VMLY&R. Two producers were also added to the team: Peter Williams from Adam & Eve/DDB and Dominique Strouthos from The&Partnership.

Importantly the agency also ended the year with the launch of a new client-facing initiative to ensure diversity and inclusion are embedded in their advertising. The Everyone Way is a partnership with DE&I consultancy The Unmistakables and The Diversity Standards Collective, which offers cultural insights and guidance to brands and agencies. The ground-breaking initiative ensures specialist advice and direction is brought to bear throughout a campaign's development.

Creative Salon Says: Charlie Rudd famously said that management teams are all about creating a 'gang' of people who are united and pull in the same direction. Alongside global CCO Chaka Sobhani, ECD Mark Elwood, CSO Josh Bullmore and the impressive MD Carly Avener, he has created a charismatic, talented gang whose capabilities reached new levels in 2022. You wouldn't bet against them doing it all again - and more - in 2023.


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