Red Dot: Agency of the Year 2015 - interview with Leo Burnett

In 2015, the title of honour “Red Dot: Agency of the Year” went to the agency network Leo Burnett Germany. No one can apply for this title of honour. The agency which continuously convinces with superior design performances is worthy of it - like Leo Burnett which was founded in Chicago in 1935.

Red Dot talked to Andreas Pauli, Chief Creative Officer, Managing Director Andrea Albrecht and Norbert Knapp, Chief Financial Officer, about the characteristics of the agency and long-term costumers.

How would you describe Leo Burnett in a nutshell?
Andreas Pauli: We’ve always put people at the centre and not the brand. And that’s why we see ourselves as a brand agency: “Creativity has the power to transform human behaviour” is a guiding principle of Leo Burnett. The topic of human behaviour has become increasingly the focus of communication in recent years. The impact of human behaviour on brands has become bigger and more complex. We take advantage of it in the sense of the brand.

Leo Burnett comes from Chicago and has established itself worldwide. What is your relationship to your parent company?
Norbert Knapp: There’s an active exchange of information. We operate quite independently in Germany, in the sense that we coordinate and confer about our objectives with Chicago, but the question of how we meet those objectives agreed upon is left to our discretion.

Does it seem that clients expect more of you because you are already so renowned?
Andreas Pauli: It is certainly an advantage to have a name that is already known. However, when you have been around for as long as we have - 80 years - the challenge is to prove your topicality as agency again and again. So, it’s good to be known, but it’s equally important that the image people have of us is up to date. We have undergone a lot of changes recently, and we’d like to see that reflected in the market. That is why having been named Red Dot: Agency of the Year 2015 was a significant milestone for us in this effort to do a lot of things differently than before. And it was great to see that it’s bearing fruit.
Andrea Albrecht: Absolutely. If you don’t breathe life into a name, it’ll lose all its worth. That’s the main challenge - in every moment and in the future.

There aren’t many agencies in the industry that manage to keep their clients for as long as Leo Burnett does. How is that achieved?
Andreas Pauli: It requires a strong commitment to the brand. The client knows that he can rely on us. And if you work with a client, such as Fiat, over a long period of time, you have to keep introducing new highlights. It’s like in a relationship.

The whole interview is published in the International Yearbook Communication Design 2015/2016 which is available in the Red Dot Shop.