Co.Design

Leo Burnett's Short, Sweet Guide To Creative Satisfaction (And Making Money) [Video]

To celebrate Leo Burnett Worldwide's 75th anniversary, Lobo created an animated version of a famous speech delivered by Burnett in 1967.

Whether you believe it or not, Google’s (in)famous motto, "Don’t be evil," is one of the most unambiguous value statements by a major company. Leo Burnett, the legendary ad executive and founder of an eponymous agency, delivered a similarly no-nonsense (if less succinct) summary of his company’s values in 1967, in a speech called "When to take my name off the door." Now a Brazilian design studio called Lobo has created an animated tribute to Burnett’s speech, which should serve as inspiration for anyone tempted by the siren song of giving less than 100% on every project:

The video is fittingly retro, full of modish asymmetrical 2-D animation and a flickering film-in-projector feel that artfully matches the not-quite-pristine audio quality of Burnett’s speech. It’s hard not to want to swirl a tumbler of scotch as you watch the video, listening to old man Leo’s paternal voice syncopate along with clinking ice cubes. When should they take his name off the door? "When you spend more time trying to make money and less time making advertising… when you begin to compromise your integrity… when you lose your humility and become big shot wisenheimers too big for your boots." What’s not to love in that? It’s like Mad Men without the howling ennui.

But then Burnett actually does bring in a bit of ennui, when he says his agency must never "lose your respect for the lonely man… behind his typewriter, or drawing board, or camera, or just scribbling notes with one of our big black pencils or working all night on a media plan." This is the unglamorous side of advertising work, or any kind of creative labor: the loneliness of not being sure if your talents match your vision for what is necessary, but doing the work anyway. Ira Glass calls this "the gap." Having great ideas is the easy part. Making them great is what’s hard. Ceasing to appreciate that gap, and the effort it takes to close it, every day is what makes creativity curdle into shilling, pandering, and time-clock punching. That’s what Burnett said he couldn’t abide, and anyone who wants to create a legacy like his would do well not to abide it either.

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9 Comments

  • Tony Castrigno

    Helps me remember why I started my own shop.  And lord knows some days I do need reminding. 

  • Lisa Phillips @cupassionista

    Blood, sweat and tears is the most rewarding part of living (the passion) in you. When you can capture it in a visual, audio or mental image, you've cracked the code. Where artistry of life meets science of business. Find your common MAN core and wrap it in the beautiful HUE the world needs to see, hear, feel, smell, taste and experience. Then you've connected and made a difference that matters, priceless and pricelessness (and there is value in that no one can match).
    Find the common MAN view & wrap it in your HU.E.
    Find the HU.MAN(E) in man... That's what will sell. We're all looking for the hype, rather than creating the hope;)

  • Gill Fellows

    Perfect... apart from a typo (stationAry) at the end (you see, I was paying attention like all good suits!)

  • MaryCusick

    I Absolutely love
    the retro feel of it this video. I couldn’t agree more, “It’s like Mad Men without the howling
    ennui.” There is something that
    we have not quite matched about the old days of advertising… when Leo Burnett
    first had his name put on that door. This is the guy who gave products their
    iconic images; The Jolly Green Giant, Pillsbury doughboy, Tony the Tiger… even
    the Marlboro man!  His ads
    reflected a mid-American “hominess” that we still see in special reproductions
    today. Just take a look at these 5 brands that have gone retro: http://orange.imaginepub.com/r...

    Thank you for
    sharing this!

  • MaryCusick

    I Absolutely love
    the retro feel of it this video. I couldn’t agree more, “It’s like Mad Men without the howling
    ennui.” There is something that
    we have not quite matched about the old days of advertising… when Leo Burnett
    first had his name put on that door. This is the guy who gave products their
    iconic images; The Jolly Green Giant, Pillsbury doughboy, Tony the Tiger… even
    the Marlboro man!  His ads
    reflected a mid-American “hominess” that we still see in special reproductions
    today. Just take a look at these 5 brands that have gone retro: http://orange.imaginepub.com/r...

    Thank you for
    sharing this!

  • George

    This video is great. I do, however, detest the current Leo Burnett website. Find the level of "design" actually interferes with usability.