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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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When in Rome

I recently traveled to Rome for the first time and the saying “When in Rome, do as the Romans do” kept going through my mind. So, of course, I gulped down cappuccinos and pastries at snack bars, imbibed vast quantities of vino, spoke the little Italian I picked up along the way and also went to work – well sort of. I visited the Leo Burnett Rome office and was warmly greeted with several “buongiornos” and “ciaos.” With 55 employees and a full kitchen (yes, they cook there) including a fabulous cappuccino machine, it was quite a change from the Chicago office. It was interesting to learn that Leo Burnett Rome doesn’t employ User Experience Design professionals like Interaction Designers and Content Strategists, but they do employ Architects and Interior Designers. Quite often they create tradeshow displays, storefronts and even office spaces for many of their clients.

Leo Burnett Italia consists of offices in Milan, Turin and Rome. Many of the digital projects are handled at the Milan office and employees across the three offices often work together on client projects and campaigns. I met with the General Manager, Fabio Bianchi, and he introduced me to several Roman Burnetters and shared some of the really cool work they’ve created in the old country.

The controversial Amica Chips commercial was quite memorable. The humorous 30-second spot, starring the famous pornography star Rocco Siffredi, uses a play on words with “chips,” which has a double meaning in Italian slang. The Association of Catholic Families considered the ad offensive and asked the TV Authority to withdraw it. Though it only aired once, the spot brought success to the brand and Leo Burnett through media coverage, YouTube views and bloggers who wanted the commercial back on the air. When it was finally reinstated with a few smart changes, fans rejoiced and Amica Chips’ CEO couldn’t be happier with increased sales of 27 percent.

A more recent campaign was the AVIS Save the Life campaign. Most young Italians do not donate blood because they are not personally affected. The demand for blood seems distant for them and the agency wanted to bring that demand closer to home. This effort was created to help recruit more young donors and catch the attention of young people where they have all their friendships – Facebook. The Save the Life video was made for Facebook and allows users to create their own version of the film from their POV and send to a friend, asking “Will you help your friend?” After watching and sharing a version of their own, users receive a personal invitation to donate blood. Customizing the video definitely gets the message across in a clear way, which will hopefully result in more blood donation appointments and ultimately more saved lives.

I’m glad I had the opportunity to visit Leo Burnett Rome. It was refreshing to see how another office operates and learn about the cultural differences and obstacles we have to overcome in order to change the way people think. From Chicago to Rome, there’s still an underlying theme: To be the world’s best creator of ideas that truly move people – bar none.