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Leo Burnett Company, Limited
175 Bloor Street East, North Tower
Toronto, Ontario M4W 3R9
+416 925 5997

Margaret Arnold

SVP, Director, Human Resources

EVP David Kennedy


Lisa Morch

VP, Director of Knowledge Mgmt

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Q4 GPC Q+A: Beri Cheetham

The fourth-quarter Global Product Committee, comprising the top creative leaders from Leo Burnett Worldwide, met in Jakarta, Indonesia, to evaluate work from around the global network using the agency’s 10-point HumanKind Scale. Work that receives a 7-point rating is considered to be the benchmark for excellence in craft. (To learn more about the GPC and the HumanKind Scale, watch this video.)

We caught up with Beri Cheetham, ECD, Brand Activation, at Leo Burnett London. He shared with us why he thinks the GPC is an important evaluative tool and why he came home from the GPC looking like the Hulk.


What elements have to come together to establish a fully integrated campaign?
Integration was a term coined in marketing about 20 years ago when media started to become increasingly fragmented. We suddenly went from a few canvases to many hundreds and now many thousands and millions. This creates both mayhem and opportunity. Early integration meant consistency of execution, or “matching luggage.” The belief was that wherever a consumer turned there was the opportunity to hit them over the head with a message. Today, integration is the antithesis to this ethos.

Integrated campaigns start with unleashing an idea. If yours is big enough it will be adopted, nurtured and shared via myriad people and platforms as it’s ultimately integrated into the hearts and minds of your consumers in a way mainstream media can never hope to compete. Ideas shouldn’t simply integrate with a media landscape; they should integrate with people’s lives in an enriching way.

Which integrated campaigns have caught your eye at GPC?
An exemplar campaign that illustrates what I mean by ideas integrating with people is #anonymousgiver from Mobinil. Here, a telecoms brand gave something back to the people during Ramadan, a time for giving. But instead of broadcasting “branded generosity,” it produced a series of random acts of kindness, from giving away food to tickets to concerts to those who could least afford them. The only message was #anonymousgiver. Compare this to #giftsfrommobinil. One is loaded with intrigue and the opportunity to be integrated into people’s lives, the other a brash piece of marketing.

Accompanying the campaign was a beautifully written and composed song that further embedded this idea into popular culture. Suddenly this idea became truly 360 without relying on conventional media. By the time Mobinil was revealed as the protagonist behind #anonymousgiver, it had generated a visceral love for the brand on a national scale.

As an executive creative director, how do you foster a culture of integration across teams?
Integration thrives in an ideas democracy. The environment I like to create for myself and those working with me is one of collaboration, with shared accountability for the work and the relationships with clients. The physical space directly affects how we interact, so we created a large table to facilitate “vicarious learning.” It would be difficult to have a reciprocal sharing of experiences in stuffy offices where one person is seated behind a big desk in the power chair. Creating a space that people recognize as a gathering place for sharing ideas and experiences is essential.

I’ve always worked in close proximity to a wall where I can make the work visible for all to build on with different ideas in varying mediums. I never feel the need to hide work, because I’m never afraid to defend or rationalize good ideas. I want everyone to go on the creative journey together so everyone has DNA in the work. When I joined Arc London, I made a point of putting every award in one place so everyone could bask in the reflective glory of winning. We work together and we win together.

Which pieces at this quarter’s GPC made you jealous?
My wife always says, “Jealousy makes you ugly.” So when something resembling The Incredible Hulk kicked open the front door upon my return from GPC, it was pretty obvious creative envy had struck. Tourism Authority of Thailand’s “Pray for Anna” was utterly bonkers, totally brilliant. The way they subverted international prejudice and preconceptions towards Thailand was inspired and brave in equal measure.

As a stalwart of activation I loved the “Slurpee Sound Cups,” a genius left-field, brand-intrinsic way of utilizing 3-D printing to create bespoke, collectable cups. I hate you Jason Williams. I’m also not fond of the chaps in Sydney who masterminded the WWF “Just” campaign. Such a simple, elegantly crated idea with beautifully judged humor.

Among those to feel the wrath of my inferiority complex are our colleagues in Paris who created “The Cube” as well as Chicago’s “Music vs Gun Violence.” If ever there’s an example of an idea integrating with people’s lives on a visceral level, it’s this.

Why is the GPC Humankind scale an important evaluation tool? How hard is it to achieve a 7+?
Prior to Leo Burnett I spent 10 years in an independent agency. So the way of judging my output was against awards shows and client reviews. A three to five out of five from a client was enough to convince me that I was either producing brilliance or headed in the right direction. The truth is an annual school report from a client is not a big enough barometer for world-class creative thinking or execution. GPC is a consistent and accurate way to evaluate our work as judged by consistently brilliant people. The 1-10 scale provides us with a universal language every Burnetter speaks anywhere on the planet. We all know where the bar is set and what we need to do to achieve 7+ status.

And it isn’t easy. In fact it’s bloody hard. As human beings we’ve been coached since school days to strive for 10 out of 10 in everything we do. So when 5-point-something is your score for a campaign you might have put your heart and soul into, it can lead to disappointment. But such is the demand for excellence at GPC that six out of 10 stands for “an intelligent idea,” so if you’re scoring a six you’re by no means in bad company. But every score comes with an evaluation that details how you can make the work better next time, which is something we can share internally and with our clients, too. If you want to achieve 7+ work you can’t simply turn up and be good at your job. In every piece of 7+ we can all see the passion, dedication and endeavor in every frame, pixel and stroke of a pencil.