Leo Burnett celebrates 86th anniversary

After another year of hard work, ingenuity, resourcefulness and success, the agency is celebrating the people who make Leo Burnett the best in the world.

We celebrated a milestone (virtually) in 2020 as we honored the 85th anniversary of Leo Burnett. It feels like years have passed in the last 12 months, but today we are fortunate to gather for a socially distant “Family Reunion Spectacular” to celebrate our 86th anniversary.

Looking back, we are reminded that Leo Burnett founded this agency during the Great Depression. We know adversity, hardship and flexibility – but more so, the power of our creative geniuses (people) to solve any problem. Last year, we pledged to focus forward to a brighter, more inclusive future – and we are even more determined now to see that vision through challenging times.

This year was filled with impactful creative work – campaigns that took risks and thought outside of the box. We drove cultural, social conversations. We produced award-winning work for our clients, while holding ourselves to even higher standards via the refreshed “HumanKind 2.0” scale – an internal rubric to solve business problems on human terms.

Leo Burnett led the way at Super Bowl LV with one of the most talked about ads: Cadillac’s “Edgar Scissorhands”, created by our team in Detroit. Starring Timothee Chalamet and Winona Rider, “ScissorHandsFree” revived Tim Burton’s iconic movie for a new generation. With incredible storytelling and lush production, the spot captured the freedom of driving hands-free in a Cadillac LYRIQ while providing viewers with a much-needed moment of joy and nostalgia.

Leo Burnett helped clients like Wingstop through uncertain times, changing the game of chicken wings entirely and rolled out “Thighstop”– a digital-only restaurant – by fully acknowledging the problem and flaunting a flavorful substitution. And one of Leo Burnett’s most powerful and emotional campaigns of the year was “The Lost Class” for Change the Ref, where we staged a graduation ceremony for the 3,044 students who should have graduated this year, but didn’t, as their lives were lost to gun violence. This campaign changed the conversation around gun reform and violence into one that’s action-oriented, catching the attention of influencers, celebrities, and activists alike. That’s the power of creativity brought to life… by each of our people.

We also announced The Pencil Project fund at our anniversary last year, having set and surpassed an ambitious fundraising goal of $85,000, to provide talented students and BIPOC with greater access to our industry. This year, we took it one step further by piloting a Creative Bootcamp at Chicago State University – a 10-week intensive to brief students at all levels on the ways of working in our industry, from pitching clients to measuring results. We were thrilled to welcome four program alums as summer interns at Publicis Groupe agencies, and we are actively working to formalize and build this educational program.

As always, we remain committed to creativity, kindness – and of course, being best in the world, bar none. As our CEO, Andrew Swinand, firmly believes – great agencies don’t transform the world, great people do. Today, we celebrate our amazing Burnetters!