Inside the agency: Leo Burnett Chicago

Leo Burnett is a standout feature on the Chicago skyline.

The entire building, designed by Kevin Roche-John Dinkeloo and Associates and Shaw & Associates, rises 50 stories above the Loop and is shaped like the Leo Burnett “pencil,” a nod to the big black pencils the founder of the agency was famous for using.

The agency lost its U.S. chief creative, Susan Credle, just this week — she went over to Interpublic’s FCB to head its global creative team — but worldwide CCO Mark Tutssel says this was “the best year yet” and the agency is actively looking for a replacement.

The agency occupies over half of the building; other Publicis shops and the holding company also have some of the remaining space. The shop also boasts its own gym right across the street.

The agency has had a standout year on the awards circuit especially, winning accolades from the AICP and the Effies for “Like a Girl,” the heart-rending video for P&G Always that showed why doing things “like a girl” isn’t such a bad thing. It’s also been a decent year on new business: Burnett’s Chi-town office won Marshall’s earlier last month, and late last year, emerged as the winner in a large-scale consolidation at Kraft.

This is just one of many walls in the Chicago @leoburnett office. #insidetheagency A photo posted by Digiday (@digiday) on

“My favorite place in the agency is Revisions, Leo Burnett’s private gym,” said Rich Stoddart, CEO at Leo Burnett North America. “In an industry like ours, having a space to run out the day and prepare for the next, is something that’s rare and really special. I think you’ll find many of our employees would agree, that our gym is one of the best perks we offer.”

Oddities dot each floor: The main lobby has a giant pair of eyeglasses that are modeled after its founder’s distinctive specs. Each Burnett office across the world has something belonging to the founder. The bowls of apples are also always present on every floor. Legend has it that when Burnett opened the shop in the middle of the Great Depression, critics scoffed, telling him that he’d soon be selling apples on the street.

Huge Leo Burnett glasses greet you when you walk into the Chicago office. #insidetheagency

A photo posted by Digiday (@digiday) on

About 1,600 employees are housed in this flagship office, with clients including P&G Always, Coca-Cola and McDonald’s. And each client gets memorabilia, like a Ronald McDonald bench on the McDonald’s floor, or shelves of Coca-Cola. But despite all this, Brian Shembeda, executive creative director, says none of it matters much: “The thing that makes the space at Leo Burnett, or any company for that matter, vibrant is the people. The walls and furniture are just decoration.” See more shots of the agency below, and follow us @Digiday on Snapchat and Instagram.

The paste room where they cut and paste ads, ideas, and inspiration to the wall. #insidetheagency A photo posted by Digiday (@digiday) on

Not a bad lunchtime view of Chicago from the 27th floor. #insidetheagency

A photo posted by Digiday (@digiday) on

Portrait of Leo Burnett in his iconic glasses. #insidetheagency A photo posted by Digiday (@digiday) on

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