Leo Burnett grew up watching his father lay out ads for the store on the dining room table. The shopkeeper would use ‘big pieces of wrapping paper a big black pencil and a yardstick,’ Burnett recalled. This was how Leo discovered the big black pencils he used throughout his career – and which the agency has adopted as part of its brand identity.
It's said that Leo Burnett believed that big ideas come out of big pencils.
The big black pencils are now a part of the company culture he created, just like the apples that grace the reception desks.
Apples have been saying "Welcome" to Leo Burnett visitors since 5th August 1935, when Leo Burnett first opened the doors to his new agency in the middle of the depression. The cynics prophesied that, "It won't be long till Leo Burnett starts selling apples on the street corner instead of giving them away."
Leo Burnett was not to be influenced in his belief and vision and he said, "When you’re on your economic bottom the only way to go is up."
Leo Burnett’s philosophy places people at the core of our business thus creating a firm foundation for the pursuit of the company’s global philosophy “HumanKind”, which revolves around the understanding of people and their behaviour.
The Cosmos are a team of energetic young executives who are appointed by the Management annually to ensure the agency's social calendar is fun-filled. They also facilitate dialogue where necessary and keep everyone up to date on the news within the agency.
•The 'Apple Dhansala' at which apples were distributed in keeping with the Buddhist tradition and Leo's own penchant for giving. •The annual 'Leo Avurudhu Ulela' (Sinhala and Tamil New Year festivities) brings together Burnetters and their friends and families, as well as clients, friends and counterparts from other Agencies, in a traditional celebration to mark the beginning of a new year. •The annual 'Christmas Charity' is also another time that the Burnetters remember the less privileged by brightening the lives of unfortunate children. Each Burnetter selects a child from an orphanage and purchase gifts for the children to spread the joy of Christmas to fund unprivileged children.
New Year - At Leo Burnett, we believe that a good breakfast is an auspicious start to a New Year, that's why we gather at the office on 1st January, bleary eyed though we may be, to enjoy a traditional breakfast with Kiribath.
Our Anniversary - 1st June is an important day for Leo Burnett in Sri Lanka. It is our anniversary. And what better way to celebrate than gathering together for another traditional breakfast.
TGIF – To build the camaraderie and to create a bond between the team a monthly TGIF (Thank God It's Friday) is hosted by a department which is held at the agency's Quadrangle.
Christmas Party - Every year, the Cosmos organises the Leo Christmas Party and a reception is hosted by the Managing Director. It is celebrated under a usually theme and is an eagerly anticipated event amongst the team.
Carols - Our crooners also go carol singing to the homes of our key clients, business partners and friends. The evening ends with a party at the MD's home where the festive season is joyously celebrated.
Cannes Predictions - The Annual Cannes Lions is the most prestigious festival that showcases and rewards the best work in the world. The Cosmos annually takes on the challenge to organise a special evening for the local industry to predict the winning entries, which is an initiative spearheaded by Leo Burnett Worldwide.
Playshop - A recent new event added to the agency's calendar is this 48 hour get-away of fun, laughter and bonding. It's a time for the entire team to play, to chill and to unwind.
Intern with Us
We have a year around internship programme that provides understanding and knowledge of the industry to students in their secondary and tertiary studies. This programme which varies from 3 weeks to 6 weeks provides a tailored exposure to Leo Burnett and the marketing community industry.
We are widely known as the University in the advertising industry and we scored another ‘first’ in the industry with the Leo Burnett Master Class programme. This internship programme is a one-of-a-kind five week programme that provides exposure and learning to aspiring under graduates who wished to join the marketing communications industry.
Interns have the opportunities to pursue their interests in the advertising industry not just within the various departments within the agency itself but also within the industry at large which includes the marketing teams of client organisations, research agencies, TV production houses, stations, newspaper houses, digital production agencies and recording studios.
Our commitment to training has led us to develop two in-house programmes: Leo Fundamentals and the Burnett Management Programme.
Leo Fundamentals is a 2-year modular programme which gives executives a solid foundation in marketing communications by exposing them to all aspects of the industry. The Burnett Management Programme uses a module-based curriculum to teach senior members in the team modern management skills to empower them as leaders.
Local Training is an integral part of the annual calendar. The programme includes off-site workshops, in-house training sessions and discipline-focused activities. A combination of people from the agency and from the fraternity in Sri Lanka, as well as resources from our global network who visit the Colombo office, serve as the trainers for the various programmes that are conducted. These programmes are tailored to suit the various team members and are designed to enhance their skills and to develop their professional competencies.
We hold training sessions throughout the year, some of which are tutored by esteemed professionals, conducting life-changing workshops and seminars. Clients and partners are regularly invited to attend some of the sessions.
Global Exposure and Regional Exposure is an essential part of the annual calendar. Team members are sent overseas for specialised courses and prominent award festivals to expand their knowledge and to enhance their depth of understanding about the various subjects that dictate and govern their professional development.
The Global Product Committee, otherwise known as the GPC, is a delegation of top creatives from the Leo Burnett network which meet to assess the agency's creative product. Several times a year, this group convenes to grade advertising generated from around the global network on a scale from 1-10. Ideas are evaluated by "7+" scale, which was developed in 1992. The main purpose of the GPC is to bring to the work of agencies more drive, stimulate people to create bright and outstanding ideas that will change the world for the better.
A Star Reacher must truly “reach for the stars” and deliver measurable results along the way. The award is given to a Burnetter who embodies Leo Burnett’s key traits – they must have the eyes of a child, the hands of a craftsman, the heart of a champion and the soul of a citizen. The recipient of the award must exhibit the qualities and drive of Leo Burnett himself, and must deliver exceptional results, passionately and consistently.