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Ad agencies are supposed to be all about generating buzz. But there hasn't been much of it -- as yet --about one big birthday being celebrated this year in the Chicago ad community.

We're talking about the 75th anniversary of the founding of Leo Burnett. It's a significant milestone for an agency that for many years represented the essence of what might be called the Chicago school of advertising. That particular style isn't as front of mind now as it was 20 or 30 years ago. But the heartwarming advertising that had wonderful storytelling at its core was for a long while synonymous with brands such as Hallmark cards and McDonald's that have been at Burnett for decades.

A good chunk of Burnett's 75th anniversary year already has passed, but one thing the agency is doing to mark its birthday is the publication of a new book called "HumanKind," a 250-page-plus summation in words and images of everything the agency has learned about brand building in its three-quarters of a century in business. The two authors listed on the cover are Burnett Worldwide CEO Tom Bernardin and Burnett Worldwide chief creative officer Mark Tutssel. But sources say Dan Santow, a PR executive with Edelman/Chicago, was the ghostwriter of much -- if not all -- of the text.

We'll save a fuller review of the book for closer to the official Oct. 2 publication date, but suffice it to say the book looks to be an elaborate attempt to repackage the basic tenets of advertising in terms more in sync with the way the business is perceived in this digital world. Bernardin and Tutssel still contend that advertising at heart is about communication, it's just that the way the communication manifests itself has changed.

Many will see "HumanKind" and contend it is a coffee table tome in the same vein as Saatchi & Saatchi honcho Kevin Roberts' recent "Lovemarks" book about evolved branding. The two books certainly have a similar, very visual design, and both have the same publisher, Brooklyn-based PowerHouse.

No doubt Burnett executives would have preferred that this 75th anniversary fall on a year when the flagship Chicago office could boast of huge account wins and a major sense of momentum. The year 2010 isn't over yet, but so far it has been another quiet one for the agency in terms of new business.

While there have been some encouraging signs at Burnett of a return to advertising that celebrates strong storytelling, especially for McDonald's, the agency's creative output still can be frustratingly uneven.

Mark Tutssel, chief creative officer of Leo Burnett Worldwide, will head the film and press juries for the Cannes Lions 2010 competition. Tutssel currently oversees the creative work of Burnett 96 global offices, and he selected Susan Credle to take over Burnett/Chicago's creative department last month.

In 2009, Burnett Worldwide was the third most-awarded network at the Cannes International Advertising Festival, as well as the Network of the Year at the Art Directors Club of New York and the Gold Drum Awards.

Prior to becoming Burnett's worldwide creative director, Tutssel was executive creative director of Burnett/London. During his tenure in London, both McDonald's and Heinz were named advertiser of the year in the United Kingdom by Campaign magazine. Commenting on his Cannes appointment, Tutssel said: I am delighted and extremely flattered to be asked to preside over the world's biggest celebration of creativity in communications."

SusanTreacy.jpgSusan Treacy has joined Leo Burnett/Chicago as a senior vice president and creative director. A main focus in her new post will be the agency's Hallmark business. Most recently, Treacy was executive creative director at the 22squared agency in Atlanta, where she oversaw work for Caribou Coffee, Southeast Toyota and Florida's Natural Orange Juice. Previous to 22squared, Treacy worked at Fallon and TBWA/Chiat/Day, creating traditional and interactive work for a range of brands, including Nordstrom, BMW, KitchenAid, Adidas and Fox Sports.

Burnett's Global Chief Creative Officer Mark Tutssel said "Susan's experience is precisely the kind we're seeking . . .I'm proud to have her aboard." Treacy has been recognized for her work in numerous advertising creative competitions, including the Cannes Lions, The One Show, New York Art Director's Club and the Clios.

Update on the John Condon matter at Leo Burnett/Chicago. Sources are reporting that ex- -- or soon-to-be-ex -- Chief Creative Officer Condon left the Burnett building at 35 W. Wacker on Monday, possibly for the last time. And as we suspected he would, Burnett Global Chief Creative Officer Mark Tutssel reportedly has arrived on the scene presumably to help sort out who will run Burnett's creative department going forward. Whether Tutssel can find an outsider who wants the job now remains to be seen. John Montgomery is one name we've heard mentioned in recent days as a possible internal choice to replace Condon. Another is Peter McHugh. But it's entirely possible Tutssel may decide an infusion of new blood is urgently needed. Meanwhile, Burnett still has not officially confirmed Condon is exiting as chief creative officer in Chicago.



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Lewis Lazare has written the Media Mix column for the Chicago Sun-Times for the past seven and a half years.

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