Leo Burnett has accused eight of its own staff of timing their resignations in order to ruin the agency's chances of delivering an important customer relations management project on deadline. The eight intend to set up their own shop, with Kellogg as their client, Leo Burnett alleges in a lawsuit filed in Cook County, Ill., according to Courthouse News.
Kellogg spends $710 million a year on ads, according to Ad Age. It is one of Leo Burnett's oldest, most valuable accounts. The agency has worked for Kellogg for 60 years.
The suit was filed on Nov. 2, and we don't yet have the staffers' side of the story.
Nonetheless, it's difficult to understate the drama that's occurring at Leo Burnett right now.
Big agencies live and die by their big accounts. This, therefore, is an alleged act of mutiny that cannot be tolerated.
Individual executives leave agencies all the time. Sometimes their personal relationships with clients are so strong that clients decide to follow them. And the smart execs get clients' off-the-record endorsements for that ahead of time.
But agencies can survive the loss of one key executive on an account -- a business the size of Kellogg's, after all, requires dozens of people to execute.
Organizing a mass walkout with the expectation that the client will follow is a different matter. It is incredibly rare in Adland. Adweek points out one of the few examples from recent memory -- when 17 people left Saatchi & Saatchi all at once, hoping to take the General Mills account with them.
The Burnett eight -- Amanda Ashley, Nate Buechler, Allison Chaplain, Jeremiah Dy-Johnson, Kristy Gibbs, Lisa Hamming, David Rasho and Matthew Johnson, according to CN -- ought to know how that episode ended. The account stayed at Saatchi, and two GM clients made a satirical video about the episode in which they pushed around Cheerios on a table, joking that they all looked the same and were inherently replaceable.
Note to readers: If you can point us to a copy of the GM video, please email us!
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