Leo Burnett chairman & CEO Wolf to retire; Bernardin to assume helm

MUMBAI: Leo Burnett Worldwide chairman and CEO Linda Wolf announced that she will retire on 30 April, transferring control of the network's worldwide operations to Leo Burnett Worldwide president and CEO, US operations, Tom Bernardin.

Wolf identified Bernardin as her successor in February 2004. He will assume the title of Leo Burnett Worldwide chairman and CEO effective 1 May, 2005.



Linda Wolf

"Since joining us in February 2004, Tom has proven he is absolutely the right person to lead the network into the future," said Wolf in a statement. "He's demonstrated a passion for our business and an understanding of what is needed to ensure our long-term success. What's more, he's been embraced by the agency and our clients. I have every confidence in Tom's ability to move the network forward and carry on the Leo Burnett legacy," the statement added.



Tom Bernardin

"I am extremely honoured to be a part of Leo Burnett's future and wish to thank Linda both personally and professionally for all that she has done on its behalf," said Bernardin, adding, "I have been inspired by Linda's love of the business and her deep respect for the agency. She is a rare executive blessed with drive, vision, empathy, understanding - and above all - a desire to do at all times what is best for the company."



Publicis Groupe chairman and CEO Maurice Lévy said, "This succession, in the works for more than a year, is taking place in perfect harmony. On behalf of the Groupe, I want to thank Linda for her many contributions to Leo Burnett during her impressive career, and more recently, the extensive time and care she’s invested to ensure the agency is well positioned to grow in the future and deliver unprecedented excellence for its clients.

"I hope that she will profit from this new stage of her life to do all that she has not had the time to do over these past years. We will all miss her greatly. Leo Burnett is assured of a great future under the leadership of Tom Bernardin. I have complete confidence in Tom's ability to lead what is one of the world's best agency networks towards continued success," Lévy added.

"Having closely worked with Tom since his arrival at Leo Burnett, I've been struck by his feel for advertising, his meticulous attention to client's needs, and his respect for the culture of the agency - as the leadership team surrounding him can attest," he said.

Wolf has spent 27 years of her professional career at Leo Burnett at various levels, including leading the US agency in Chicago from 1996 to 2001, serving as the agency's worldwide chief since 2001, looking after the agency's global operations spanning more than 80 countries and more than 200 operating units.

Since coming to the helm of affairs in January 2001, she has grown Burnett business through client wins and expanded assignments with existing ones such as Procter & Gamble, Kellogg’s, Hallmark and Disney.

Her efforts to strategically expand and diversify the network have resulted in the addition of full-service agencies and an increased emphasis on marketing services, integrating interactive, direct, database, promotion and other specialty marketing assets under Arc Worldwide.

Bernardin, before joining Leo Burnett, was Lowe New York CEO. Prior to the merger of Lowe New York and Bozell, he was president and CEO of Bozell. Bernardin's multi-national career included spending eight years abroad at McCann-Erickson handling brands such as the American Express GoldCard, GM/Opel and Chrysler. Named president of Bozell in April 1998, Bernardin reorganised the agency to meet the rapidly changing marketplace by building on the agency's long tradition of entrepreneurship and impressive growth.

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