Leo Burnett’s CEO Talks About Moving Forward After Losing McDonald’s Account

Agency is 'doubling down' on growth opportunities

Headshot of Christine Birkner

After McDonald's ended its 35-year relationship with Leo Burnett earlier this week, consolidating its advertising business with Omnicom, the agency has started looking to the future.

McDonald's, a $1 billion account, represented less than 7 percent of Leo Burnett's revenue, according to Rich Stoddart, CEO of Leo Burnett.

"It's never easy to lose a client. It's particularly not easy if that client has been around for 35 years. The McDonald's business has touched hundreds, if not thousands, of people who have been a part of Leo Burnett, so it's emotional," he said. "[Seven percent] isn't nothing, but in the context of what it means to our business, though, the walls aren't falling down."

This isn't the first time that an agency has lost a big client and bounced back. In 2015, BBDO lost Bud Light and P&G's Gillette, but went on to expand its existing client relationships and have a 70 percent success rate on pitches for the year, increasing revenue by 5 to 7 percent in 2015 and being named Adweek's agency of the year.

Leo Burnett will continue to seek growth opportunities and focus on its work for clients like Samsung and P&G's Always, for which it won the Emmy and countless other awards in 2015 for the brand's "Like a Girl" campaign.

"We've always had a deep client list with lots of different categories, from technology to CPG to durables to financial services, and it remains that way," he said. "For the immediate term, our focus is on the robust business we have in the pipeline, and we're doubling down on looking for opportunities to continue to grow the company."

@ChristineBirkne christine.birkner@adweek.com Christine Birkner is a Chicago-based freelance writer who covers marketing and advertising.