MAA Agency of the Year: the first contender is Leo Burnett

Publicis-owned agency is top of the holding company agencies

With CEO Charlie Rudd and CCO Chaka Sobhani at the helm, Leo Burnett outpaced most of its rivals this year by providing a killer combination of new business and creative firepower.

The star duo worked with heavyweight CSO Josh Bullmore to win pitches for some of the year’s most coveted accounts. Leo Burnett beat adam&eveDDB to, trounced fierce competition to win Skoda and Allwyn’s National Lottery, and is up against McCann in the final round of the Vodafone pitch.

McDonald’s, as ever, was the creative highlight, and in January the agency found a new gear with “Raise your arches” which was universally popular with the public, the client, and the industry. The campaign took home plenty of awards, although many felt it was cheated at Cannes with “just” a silver and two bronzes. Summer and Christmas versions followed, as the agency demonstrated that it had tapped into a creative insight with legs.

Bookmarking the year with its strongest creative work, Leo Burnett finished with a flourish thanks to two strong Christmas campaigns: singing oven gloves for Morrisons and holidaying elves for Tui.

A stable team at the top has paid off. Four years of Rudd, Sobhani and Bullmore have helped Leo Burnett maintain momentum and keep focus on the ambition to be “the home of populist creativity.” Together, they have taken the agency from strength to strength, even though Sobhani and Rudd have expanded their roles during that time.

As the year ends, Sobhani is preparing to move on to DDB International, while Rudd is now stretched ever more thinly across a group CEO role that includes Fallon and Publicis.Poke as well as Leo Burnett. Mark Elwood, who has steered UK creative with aplomb for the last couple of years, and Carly Avener have moved up take on the CCO and CEO roles respectively, but the challenge to keep up the pace in 2024 will be pretty daunting.

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