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Agency Interview

Agency Interview

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Published by: api-24269297 on Mar 10, 2010
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08/09/2010

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Running a successful ad agency is a question of  balance between creativity and business focus,and while acknowledging the importance of rigourand accountability, Andrew Edwards, group chief executive officer for Leo Burnett in the UK, believesthe division of emphasis needs to be more heavilyin favour of creativity and planning.This doesn’t mean that Edwards thumbs hisnose at the tenets of Magic and Logic, whichcall for close relationships and understanding between agencies and their client-side marketingand procurement contacts; it’s more a reflectionof his appraisal of what clients really want to payfor, and a tip of the hat towards the impact thattechnology has already made to Leo Burnett’sworking practices on the Logic side, including in aproduction department that is still highly valued.Edwards assumed his current role towards theend of 2007, and has implemented considerableand ongoing internal change. He tells PMM:“Most agencies are 40% creative and planningand 60% all other aspects, and I think it should be the reverse. I would say that’s what we are working towards.We’re not quite there yet, but we are at least 50/50, and maybe 55/45towards creative and planning.”The group is formed from five constituents: Leo Burnett London,retail and promotions agency Arc, luxury and style agency Atelier,LeoSports a dedicatedsponsorship consultancy,and experiential agencyLime. Structurally,Edwards has broughtthem all closer together– literally closer, that is,with a single executivemanagement board,and all of the disparatecreative, planning andother departments thatform an agency combinedinto just one of each,serving clients for theentire group.Aside from the structure of the agency group, Edwards has alsolooked to shape and clarify Leo Burnett’s ethos, based on its owninterpretation of the four Ps of marketing.“We have reinvented those four Ps, and we hang everythingon it,” Edwardscontinues. “In the firstplace our businessis about People, andwhen we’re talkingabout brands, whatlies behind that ispeople as well. A brand also has to meeta fundamental humanneed, so our second Pis Purpose; that a brandmust play a part insomeone’s life. Thirdis participation: to be asource of actions, notjust words; and howthat delivers againstthe purpose.“Lastly, Populism –we believe in it. Any brand has to be popular, and even a niche brand can have a populistapproach to its advertising.”These fundamental beliefs run deep within all the briefings,planning and templates that Leo Burnett works upon, and goalongside continuing heavyinvestment in planningand creative. It’s because Edwards hasa clear focus, not juston what will make theagency successful, butalso what, in terms of systems and processes,must also underpinwinning creativity.Edwards says:“Clients want to payfor the Magic, andwhile they recognisethat they need to, theydon’t necessarily want to pay for the process of delivery. It’s an areaof the business that’s under the microscope.”What does underpin the creative and planning efforts at theagency, and will increasingly do so, is the technology and services of Adstream. While it’s an important asset for the production department
agency interview
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October 2009
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